Katia and Maurice Krafft

Katia and Maurice Krafft
Katia and Maurice Krafft

Katia and Maurice Krafft
Born April 17, 1942 (Katia), March 25 1946 (Maurice)
Died June 3, 1991
Mount Unzen, Japan
Cause of death Killed by the 1991 eruption of Mt. Unzen
Nationality French

Katia Krafft (Mulhouse, 17 April 1942 – 3 June 1991) and her husband, Maurice Krafft (Guebwiller, 25 March 1946 – 3 June 1991) were French volcanologists who died in a pyroclastic flow on Mount Unzen, in Japan, on June 3, 1991. The Kraffts were known for being pioneers in filming, photographing and recording volcanoes, often getting within feet of lava flows. Their obituary appeared in the Bulletin of Volcanology, (vol. 54, pp 613–614).


Early days

Katia and Maurice met at the University of Strasbourg, and their career as volcano observers began soon after. With little money, they saved up for a trip to Stromboli and photographed the eruption. Finding that people were interested in this documentation of eruptions, they soon made a career out of this, which afforded them the ability to travel the globe.

As professional volcanologists

The Kraffts were often the first to arrive at an active volcano, and were respected and envied by many volcanologists. Their footage of the effects of volcanic eruptions was a considerable factor in gaining the cooperation of local authorities faced with volcanic threats. One notable example of this was after the onset of activity at Mount Pinatubo in 1991, where their video of the effects of the eruption of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia was shown to large numbers of people, including Philippine President Cory Aquino, and convinced many skeptics that evacuation of the area would be necessary.

The Mount Unzen eruption

In June 1991, while filming eruptions at Mount Unzen, they were caught in a pyroclastic flow which unexpectedly swept out of a channel other flows had been following and onto the ridge they were standing on. They were killed instantly, along with 41 journalists also covering the eruptions.

The work of the Kraffts was highlighted in a video issue of National Geographic, which contained a large amount of their film footage and photographs as well as interviews with both. Maurice is famous for saying in the video that "I am never afraid because I have seen so much eruptions in 23 years that even if I die tomorrow, I don't care", coincidentally on the day before his and his wife's death at Mt. Unzen.[1]


  • Maurice Krafft :
    • Guide des volcans d’Europe : généralités, France, Islande, Italie, Grèce, Allemagne..., Neuchâtel, Delachaux et Niestlé, 1974, 412 p.
    • Questions à un vulcanologue : Maurice Krafft répond, Paris, Hachette-Jeunesse, 1981, 231 p.
    • Les Volcans et leurs secrets, Nathan, Paris, 1984, 63 p.
    • Le Monde merveilleux des volcans , Paris, Hachette-Jeunesse, 1981, 58 p.
    • Les Feux de la Terre, Histoire de volcans, Paris, Découvertes Gallimard, - 208 p.
  • Maurice and Katia Krafft :
    • À l’assaut des volcans, Islande, Indonésie, Paris, Presses de la Cité, 1975, 112 p.
    • Preface by Eugène Ionesco, Les Volcans, Paris, Draeger-Vilo, 1975, 174 p.
    • La Fournaise, volcan actif de l’île de la Réunion, Saint-Denis, Éditions Roland Benard, 1977, 121 p.
    • Volcans, le réveil de la Terre, Paris, Hachette-Réalités, 1979, 158 p.
    • Dans l’antre du Diable : volcans d’Afrique, Canaries et Réunion, Paris, Presses de la Cité, 1981, 124 p.
    • Volcans et tremblements de terre, Paris, Les Deux Coqs d’Or, 1982, 78 p.
    • Volcans et dérives des continents, Paris, Hachette, 1984, 157 p.
    • Les plus beaux volcans, d’Alaska en Antarctique et Hawaï, Paris, Solar, 1985, 88 p.
    • Volcans et éruptions, Paris, Hachette-Jeunesse, 1985, 90 p.
    • Les Volcans du monde, Vevey-Lausanne, Éditions Mondo, 1986, 152 p.
    • Objectif volcans, Paris, Nathan Image, 1986, 154 p.
    • Führer zu den Virunga Vulkanen, Stuttgart, F. Enke, 1990, 187.
  • Maurice Krafft and Roland Benard :
    • Au cœur de la Fournaise, Orléans, Éditions Nourault-Bénard, 1986, 220 p.
  • Maurice Krafft, Katia Krafft et François-Dominique de Larouzière :
    • Guide des volcans d'Europe et des Canaries, Neuchätel : Delachaux et Niestlé, 1991, 455 p.


  1. ^ Volcano: Nature's Inferno (videorecording). Washington, DC: National Geographic Society. 2003. 

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