Tempest Anderson (1846-1913) was an opthalmic surgeon by trade, with a great enthusiasm for photography. While photography was a great passion, it was only when he combined it with a new hobby that he began to make a name for himself. That hobby was vulcanology, and it led Anderson round the world, visiting recently erupted volcanoes (as soon as he heard of an eruption, he would travel from his home in York to wherever in the world he needed to be to set up his home-made photographic equipment and capture the aftermath of volcanic eruptions.

Despite his status as merely an amateur scientist, Anderson became a known authority on vulcanology, publishing "Volcanic Studies in Many Lands"1 in 1903. In the previous year, he was commissioned, with J. S. Flett, by the Royal Society, to analyse the devastating eruption of Mont Pelée on the island of Martinique. The two established the idea of 'pyroclastic flow', in which "a dense black cloud of superheated and suffocating gases"2, preceding the main eruption, descends from a volcano, rather like an avalanche. An eruption with these characteristics is said to be of the 'Peléan type'.

In the course of his studies, Anderson took great risks in order to secure the best possible photographic records of eruptions. Eschewing telephoto lenses (which would have distorted the perspective of his images), Anderson used standard lenses. This meant, of course, that he needed to be nearer the action. Actually taking the photographs was no mean feat either, given that he would have had to haul his equipment about; equipment which would have included a great number of glass plates.

Anderson died of fever in 1913, en route home from the Philippines. His collected photographic works are owned by the Yorkshire Museum.

1. Volcanic Studies in Many Lands: Being Reproductions of Photographs by the Author of Above One Hundred Actual Objects, with Explanatory Notices: John Murray, 1903 and Volcanic Studies in Many Lands...Second Series: John Murray, 1917

2. http://70.1911encyclopedia.org/V/VO/VOLCANO.htm

Additional Sources:
100 Local Heroes from Adam Hart-Davis and Paul Bader: Sutton Publishing, 2000

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