Masaya Volcano: Day 4

Today was a very productive day regarding the taking of readings with Hazel’s team and was a very busy one.


The day started out very hopeful with the acquisition of a 3G dongle on the Movistar network but the joy was short lived when it was discovered the dongle only works plugged into a computer and software installed.

Taking the SIM card out of the dongle and putting it in the iPhone faired no better! Upon returning the device to Movistar they stated the dongle will not work with routers, only computers and as with Claro they also do not wish to supply SIM cards only?

So it looks as the last resort is the BGAN.

Tomorrow the entire group are set to descent the Nindiri plateau which will bring us as close as we can get to the vent and where a number of readings need to be taken. This is going to be my first opportunity to setup the BGAN on the volcano to at last get a signal to allow internet connectivity.


With the realisation of no 3G SIM card that I could use in my iPhone I swapped SIM cards with Hazel’s iPhone that is on a UK contract with data roaming enabled.

Once again disappointment was the flavour of the day as at every point where we tried the signal albeit very strong was not 3G hence the app failed.

It has to be accepted that in remote areas such as this having the application reliant on a 3G signal for map data is a weakness! We must revisit this approach and see how we can overcome this weakness which will almost certainly be to have a map dataset installed on the device.

The iPhone however did prove useful in one aspect of volcanic reading procedures. A small team were sent to take regular heat readings from various holes in the surrounding landscape near the volcano and required the GPS coordinates of these locations. By using the iPhone to take a picture of the reading location it was possible to extract the GPS coordinates recorded with the image. And as we walked to each location the iPhone’s location indicator had a constant flash with a small pulsing circle indicating the device had a good GPS lock.

One interesting point for me was that the Magnetometer we had which was to be used to take readings throughout the day also failed. It is a kind of pleasing in a way to know that it is not just the iPhone that has technical difficulties and Hazel stated this is not uncommon.


Today was a very good day for me both wellbeing and work. My goal today was to perform tasks for any team I would be assigned to which in the end was with Hazel, Doris and Sam taking micro gravity readings on the plateau.

Hazel takes the reading while Doris waits to crunch the numbers

Looking at the marker pins it is fascinating to see the destructive power of this inhospitable environment by looking at the pins place in the rock as location markers.

A location marker pin showing signs of erosion

A location pin that has seen better days!

As I walk around the volcano crater I remain in awe at the enormity it. It is so beautiful to look at yet so deadly to be near. Which makes it surprising to see so many forms of life thriving here, vultures, crater parrots, lizards and ocelots. The latter presence revealed by paw print trails in the ash.

View across plateau

Sam in the foreground for scale

The day ended on an high with visit to a ranch belonging to a family member of one of the volunteers how are in the coffee trade. Their hospitality to complete strangers was second to none with wonderful food and surroundings and a guided tour of their ranch.

Relaxation after a hard day on the volcano

Marquess Nicaragua style

Rider and horse perform for us

The day concludes back at the hotel with everyone relaxing and chatting……while I blog!