Scientists journey into an active volcano crater


This is not a special-effects still from an upcoming movie. Instead, it's a photo taken at Nyiragongo Volcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and National Geographic has the story of a team of Congolese seismologists who journeyed into Nyiragongo's crater to study the volcano's massive lava lake, and try to learn more about what's going on inside a mountain that could potentially kill thousands.

This photo, taken by Carsten Peter, shows a scientist walking on cooled lava within the volcano's caldera. The red color comes from a reflection of the light off the nearby lava lake. There's lots more breath-taking photos on the National Geographic site.


  1. Wouldn’t it be easier to move the people? I’d say building a town in such an obviously bad spot wasn’t such a good idea in the first place and trying to protect it is a losing proposition in the long run.

  2. Absolutely stunning photos, but that is what National Geographic does best.

    And before this I thought that the storm chasers were crazy …

  3. Bravery in the name of science…
    shouldn’t they have like, a standard bearer or something?


  4. Badass; but I have to wonder if a cheap R/C quadrocopter might have been a better choice than an expensive and flammable geologist for sample gathering…

    1. I suspect nothing cheap would be able to take the heat, approaching something hot from above is a bad idea and from the sound of it no robot could have gotten there horizontally.

    2. Well, I guess there are many reasons people become geologists, but for many (including myself) one of the main reasons was to potentially have the chance to do stuff like this. If there was a choice between flying in an R/C helicopter or being able to relatively safely walk out there in person, 99% of geologists would choose to go in person.

      Geology field work is special – you go to extreme places not just because you can (like mountaineers and other extreme sports kinds of things), but for the advancement of scientific knowledge – *and* because you can :)

      That said, most geologists never have the opportunity to do any particularly cool field work, even if they want to.

  5. No comment on the epic skull in the bottom right quarter of the photo, or how “Gon[e]” is written in the dark spots lava, across the center of the photo? And like, I’m not trying to be one of those “I found jesus in my burger” types.

  6. Point 1: Am I the only one who is reminded very strongly of the album-art from Rick Wakeman’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth?”

    Point 2: Proof of why we need to go to space — geology needs to be done in person, even when it’s ferociously perilous

    Point 3: Fantastic. These people really *do* need a medal.

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