See the Amazing Photography of a Pioneering Vulcanologist
Tempest Anderson was an ophthalmic surgeon at York County Hospital at the turn of the century, though it was Anderson’s hobbies that ultimately made him famous.
Anderson was a pioneering volcanologist, photographer, and alpinist, and was among the chosen few appointed to the Royal Society Commission to study the aftermath of the deadly eruptions of La Soufrière, a volcano in the Caribbean. The observations from that 1902 expedition to St. Vincent and Martinique served as Anderson's greatest contribution to the field.
The Yorkshire Museum (York Museums Trust) has a recently digitized collection of 5000 of Anderson’s lantern slides, glass negatives, celluloid negatives, and physical photographs. They were bequeathed to the museum following his death in 1913 while aboard a ship in the Red Sea, just after a volcano-chasing trip to the Philippines and Indonesia. Legal hurdles delayed their wider distribution.
Among Anderson’s more notable works is an account (photographic and textual) of “pyroclastic flow,” a heavy current of super fast and super hot rocks, gas, and ash, which move down the surface of a volcano like an avalanche. A pyroclastic flow is what killed around 30,000 people in Saint Pierre following the May 1902 eruption, as well as the city of Pompeii some 1,800 years earlier.
Anderson circled the globe in his pursuit of volcano studies. He went to New Zealand, Hawaii, Egypt, Italy, Canada, Central America, and back to the Caribbean in his travels. He reportedly always had two bags packed in constant preparation for the next voyage—one for warm climates and one for cold climates.
Over at Public Domain Review, Pat Hadley (Yorkshire’s Wikimedia Ambassador), Sarah King, and Stuart Ogilvy (of the Yorkshire Museum) write that a colleague once said to Anderson, “You know, Anderson, you are sure to be killed, but it will be such a very great satisfaction to you afterwards to think that it was in the cause of science.”
In that spirit of science and adventure, take some time to browse Anderson’s work below and in the digital archive.