Recording Volcanoes, and World Listening Day

Bumpass Hell - Recording

At Bumpass Hell, watching the fumarole as it’s spewing gas just before recording.

I recently had a friend ask me if I’d like to go and record at Lassen Volcanic National Park on World Listening Day — well, the day after actually, but close enough. I jumped at the chance to add some field recordings of an active volcano to my ever-growing collection. I grabbed my “modified” SASS (with my Sennheiser MKH20s housed inside of it), my Sound Devices 744t, and my Sony D100 and drove out to do some recording. I actually decided to bring my Sony D100 at the last minute because I realized that I could record two different perspectives simultaneously while we were there if I brought it along too.

After camping at Lassen the night before we left for Bumpass Hell at around 6AM and got there at around 6:15AM. That’s a little later than we’d normally go out to record a nature setting, but since we weren’t trying to capture the Dawn Chorus we didn’t need to be on location at 4AM like we normally would. Really, the important thing was to get there before anyone else did so that our recordings didn’t have other people (who were touring Bumpass Hell, etc.) talking in the background. Since some visitors started arriving at around 8AM I was really glad that I brought the D100. It allowed me to get twice the amount of recordings in the same amount of time. At any given time I had the SASS and 744t rig pointed in one direction, and the D100 recording a completely different perspective, so I ended up with a pretty wide variety of great sounds.

Lassen is a really amazing place and my friend Greg Weddig is hoping to make the park there a location that annually hosts World Listening Day. I’m planning on going there a day earlier next year to help him setup the “listening booth” for World Listening Day. He and his wife were there hosting the event this year, letting visitors listen to the sounds around them through several of his recording setups, so that they could hear all the cool things happening around them that would normally go unnoticed (or unheard).

Here’s a short clip from one of several recordings that I captured at the “Pool ‘Fool’ of Gold” at Lassen. What you hear is a boiling pool of acid sulfate water and pyrite, also known as “fools gold.” Enjoy…


This is a recording of “Big Boiler”, the hottest fumarole (steam and volcanic-gas vent) — within a non-erupting volcano — in the world. You can hear it spewing gas in the foreground, mostly out of the left side/channel, and you’ll also hear some of the boiling pools of sulfate rich water in the middle ground and background on both the left and right sides (since you’re surrounded by it when you’re there).


Greg Weddig (back left), me (back right), a park ranger filming (foreground).

Getting everything set up to record. Greg Weddig (left), me (back right), and a park ranger (foreground), who was filming the areas we were recording.


** Update on 9/27/15 ** Check out the video below to see what Ranger Purifoy filmed the day Greg and I were there recording. All of the recordings heard in this video were captured by the talented Greg Weddig, who does work for Lassen Volcanic National Park.