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I get paid to research volcanoes

The temperature in Matt Patrick's office can rise to 2100 degrees Fahrenheit.

As a geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Patrick monitors active volcanoes and provides hazard assessment to emergency managers and the public.

"When you walk up to active lava, it's incredibly hot … just the radiant heat can be really, really intense," Patrick said in an interview with CNBC's "Power Lunch."

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What his day-to-day brings depends entirely on nature. "Oftentimes there's gas so we have to wear gas masks, sometimes we have to wear helmets. …We normally wear fire-resistant clothing, kind of like flight suits," he said.


Geologist Matt Patrick at work monitoring volcanoes for the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
Source: USGS
Geologist Matt Patrick at work monitoring volcanoes for the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

The protective gear is particularly necessary when taking samples of lava to monitor volcanic activity.

"It involves us basically walking out to the active lava flow, using a rock hammer to dip it into the fluid lava and then taking that lava and putting it into a bucket to really quickly freeze it," Patrick said.

The lava is then packed and sent off to colleagues on the mainland. "They look at the chemical changes in the lava to get a sense of changes in the magmatic plumbing system," he added.

Geologist Matt Patrick at work monitoring volcanoes for the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
Source: USGS
Geologist Matt Patrick at work monitoring volcanoes for the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Patrick also uses seismometers to track earthquakes and volcanic tremors, and deformation instruments like GPS to monitor the swelling of the volcano. Webcams and thermal cams are also used to keep a constant watch, something Patrick doesn't take for granted.

"I feel really privileged to be able to work here and it's just a great opportunity to learn about volcanoes," he said.