Just wondering if any of you have any tried and true techniques or suggestions for designing lava and/or volcano sounds (anything from volcanic eruption, flowing lava, molten volcanic rock movement, etc)

  • 3
    More questions like this, please. May 18, 2013 at 0:50
  • @Jay Jennings are you referring to the sort of odd one off newbie production questions that have come up on SSD in the last couple of weeks?
    – Dave
    May 18, 2013 at 3:27
  • Thanks @Jay. Not sure what makes this a "newbie" question, @Dave. Newb though I may be, relatively speaking, I asked this question not because I wasn't capable of coming up with a solution on my own but because I was curious to see how other sound designers might approach this. I believe it's only through learning from others that we can truly improve our own skills and knowledge. Even when you think you already know something, you may be surprised to see you can still learn from someone else. That's what makes socialsounddesign such an amazing place. I imagine that Jay would tend to agree. May 21, 2013 at 17:00
  • I don't think Dave was referring to your question as being a newb question. I think he was talking about the ones that are often more or less "how do I sound design?" or "how do I beats-make?" Or, the odd scenario specific ones like "I have all the production sound and I got the video and the camera audio synced up from the editor - what do?" Your question is fine, and good too.
    – James
    May 22, 2013 at 4:26
  • lol, yeah, I've seen some of those. Hopefully I didn't come across as overly defensive. Just the way I read Dave's comment makes it sound as though my question is being lumped into the newbie production questions category. May 22, 2013 at 17:41

4 Answers 4


A few ideas:

  • access the real thing! There are plenty of geothermal areas in the world which people have recorded... eg theres 58 geysers on sounddogs - use them and/or youtube as a reference if nothing else

  • snow, ice, avalanche, water & explosion sounds are all good source material for manipulation eg completely take the attack off an explosion and you have an element of a geyser - layer it with eg a pitched down water burst/hose gush... I've also in the past taken single ocean wave breaks, pitched it down/EQ'd it & then created a doppler/pitch curve on it, since the water spraying out of a geyser is going to doppler to a degree from your pov....

  • perform EQ sweeps rolling most of the high freq off snow or ice movement & you can get some good murky gritty movement that could work for lava...

  • for volcanic rock movement, an obvious starting point is rock movement, so try close micing grinding heavy rocks together & add subharmonic synth processing (LowEnder plugin or dbx120 outboard) - doing pitch curves on these may help evoke their movement

  • i have some sounds in my library called 'erratic pass' that I made years ago in Metasynth using white noise as a source & applying lots of pitch modulation to it so its kind of bubbly and erratic... Then I processed those with doppler plugin and EQ sweeps to provide movement & create lots of variations.. its useful as a layer as its bright/cuts through, but when layered under real sounds you definitely dont 'read' it as synthetic or artificial... Could be useful under a geyser spray, just for a brief moment, as effectively water is spraying everywhere, so it is an erratic burst of hiss :)


i've had success pitching down recordings of polenta, chili, thick stews to get that gloopy sound. Layer low frequency rumble, debris and rocks etc


Can't seem to find the video but i saw a one yesterday with Ben Burtt discussing the new Star Trek which he created some 1500 sounds for. Some of which was lava and volcano. For lava he said they dropped blocks of dry ice in water.


I would think mixing some earthquake/LFE sounds with some way pitched down concrete debris being moved and some low bubbling? Like pitching down some slow boiling syrup or sugar water so you don't get the rolling popping boil but the sludgy kind?

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