In 1997, two volcano movies were released with big-name actors, Volcano and Dante's Peak.

Both movies were fun to watch, but I'm curious, of the two gems of moviemaking, which were more scientifically accurate in their depiction of what would happen? Do both score relatively well? Were there glaringly obvious problems with both plotlines?

  • I'd say Dante's Peak at least seemed much more scientifically accurate to me, but in which way it actually was I cannot say.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    May 21 '13 at 23:43
  • Driving over freshly flowing lava is a bad idea. It doesn't just burn the tires, it incinerates the vehicle. Driving into a cave doesn't protect one very much from hot ash. Visit Pompeii. Also, the rapid progression of the volcano then the slow-enough-to-escape explosion is just plain weird.
    – wallyk
    May 22 '13 at 7:23
  • I really think Joe Versus the Volcano should be a contendor, too.
    – Flimzy
    May 24 '13 at 8:05

A quick survey of reviews by non-scientists suggests overwhelming agreement with the statement in Wikipedia that Dante's Peak is more scientifically accurate than Volcano, although Wikipedia only says "slightly". The impression is strengthened by the careful discussions of the science of Dante's Peak that have been published by the USGS and the UMD Geology department without bothering to mention Volcano.

However, the only side-by-side comparison between the two movies that I could find made by an actual geologist comes out differently. Erik Klemetti's guide to volcano movies has heavy criticism for both; on scientific accuracy, Volcano scores 4 out of 9 but Dante's Peak gets only 3.

In fact, most of the volcano movies he discusses score the minimum 1 out of 9 for science; the notable exception is the made-for-TV Supervolcano (2005), which gets 6 out of 9.


I havent' seen a movie with real 100% science facts. I guess it's boring to tell something "possible" instead of smething impossible.

Anyway, you can read some interesting facts about how the volcano wouldn't make in short amount of time all the acid needed to dissolve the aluminium boat, neither to make the lake acid.

Would an acid-filled lake really not float Pierce Brosnan's boat, or is the science of Dante's Peak off-kilter?

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