1. Mount Yasur is an active volcano on Tanna Island, Vanuatu with a height of 361 meters (1,184 feet) above sea level.
2. Mount Yasur is one of the most easily accessible live volcano in the world. Anyone can walk right up and peer down into its fiery belly. Standing close to the edge of the crater can be a frightening experience however. Huge explosions from deep inside the crater frequently shake the ground and are followed by debris that shoots high into the air.
3. Observers are warned in advance with a system that rates the likely danger from 0 to 4. If it is rated 2 or higher, there is the likelihood that the volcanic rocks can fly as far as the edge of the crater and beyond presenting a deadly threat. Not surprisingly, visits to Mount Yasur are banned on those days.
4. Despite the warning system, approaching the crater at Mount Yasur is dangerous at any time. Visitors are at risk from projectiles, toxic gas and avalanches.
5. Three people have been killed over the years because they wandered to lower, unsafe areas. In one incident, both a guide and tourist were killed because the tourist had insisted on going to a dangerous area and the guide accompanied her. Both were hit by erupting pieces of lava and died instantly.
6. Mount Yasur is most active between late February and April during the wet season. A lot of rain means a higher groundwater level, possibly allowing water to come into contact with hot rocks around the magma chamber.
7. The glow of the volcano was apparently what attracted Captain James Cook on the first European journey to the island in 1774.
8. Mount Yasur has been called ‘‘the lighthouse of the Pacific’’ because the more-or-less continuous Strombolian and volcanic activity since Cook’s first sighting.
9. Today the mountain is a sacred area for the John Frum cargo cult. The cult reveres John Frum, a deified messenger who foretold the bringing of wealth to the island by American forces, and believe he resides in Mount Yasur with his countrymen.