Not in a million years would I think that my 3 year old daughter would be so obsessed by volcanoes but she talks about them every day at school and always mentions tectonic plates, lava and magma. This phase of hers has lasted since December. :-)
Anyway, questions she had was why does the Volcanologist always have a stick?
Can you really walk on hot lava?
Yes you can walk on hot lava, but I don’t recommend it. The human body is a bit more dense than water, but typical basalt lava has a density up to three times this. I've walked over Kilauea magma lobes as they were moving downhill into a forest, and were swelling in thickness – but only after an initial gray crust had formed. The problem is that even the crusted lava is so hot that they will melt your boot soles rather quickly. Cold lava will destroy your boots also - but mainly because cold lava is solidified, crusty glass, and the abrasion tears the boots up at a phenomenal rate. The other problem with walking over hot lava is that the air temperature above it is suffocatingly hot - without a thermometer to say for sure, I would estimate the air temperatures above some flows I've walked over southeast of Kilauea were up in the 120F - 140F (50C – 60C) range. You can't stay in that for very long at all, and if you are downwind you can't stay there either - so in several occasions I had to walk across a new flow just to get out of the heat and back to my helicopter. Helicopters can’t get adequate lift in those high temperatures, which means the pilot could not rescue me unless I moved away from the hot zone.
Why the Pompeii guys not use their cars to get away from the Volcano?
They didn't have cars in those days (79 AD), and I'll bet all the donkeys had already taken off running on their own. The REAL problem with Pompey was that many of the people were likely killed by a rush of hot gas (called a nuee ardent) that roared down the volcano's slopes at high speed - and then they were engulfed and covered by pyroclastic flow debris. This is extremely hot ash and pumice that rained down on the survivors faster than they could run, and engulfed, suffocated, and burned those not already dead. It must have been a fast death, but a very painful one.
Don't know how long she will be so interested in this topic but I try and get books and watch videos of volcanoes as much as we can.
Keep feeding her books, and then just stand back in awe at what you have made.
Have a nice day!