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Crater love
March 5, 2011 5:31 AM   Subscribe

Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the world's largest active volcanoes. The Boston Globe presents photographer Oliver Grunewald's amazing photo essay of a June 2010 expedition to the lava lake sheltered inside the crater.

BBC documentary about the deadly 2002 eruption (previously)
What did you do on your holidays? These guys gazed into the gaping maw of hell.
posted by Joe in Australia (34 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy. That is amazing.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:40 AM on March 5, 2011


I've actually been to the nearby city of Goma which has been devastated on more than one occasion by the volcano. While I didn't get too many shots off while I was there due to malaria, here are a couple of locals doing their laundry on the lava.
posted by gman at 5:57 AM on March 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Incredible photos, thanks for posting. Photo #20 really puts it into scale.
posted by KirkpatrickMac at 6:03 AM on March 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


They are camping by molten lava in a semi-active volcano! Brave scientists, fuck yeah!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:15 AM on March 5, 2011


Beautiful, especially the night shots.
posted by Forktine at 6:17 AM on March 5, 2011


It's very easy to see the lava flow that damaged the northern end of Goma's airport runway on Google Maps.
posted by dhartung at 6:20 AM on March 5, 2011


The time for a snooze aspect is jarring. How do you do that? Great shots.
posted by hawthorne at 6:21 AM on March 5, 2011


Amazing, I'd love a chance to get shots like that (even if it meant going into a volcano). On a side note, I've always been impressed with The Boston Globe website these photos are listed on - lots of examples of excellent news photography.
posted by photo guy at 6:34 AM on March 5, 2011


Somewhat related: La Soufriere, a documentary film in which Werner Herzog and his loyal crew, after hearing that the volcano on the island of Guadalupe is ready to erupt, travel to the recently evacuated island and attempt to summit the steaming mount.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:39 AM on March 5, 2011


One thing I didn't really process until now: the lava level is presently very low, but it's still 2700 meters above sea level - more than a mile and a half! Contemplate the forces that are pushing liquid rock up that high and imagine what a relatively small change it would take to make this lava fill the crater, overflow the walls, and cover the countryside. This sort of thing has happened before: the Deccan Traps are the remains of a lava flow that covered half a million square kilometers (nearly 200,000 square miles).
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:49 AM on March 5, 2011


It's very easy to see the lava flow that damaged the northern end of Goma's airport runway on Google Maps.

And here's the angry red anus from which Goma spews her anger.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:57 AM on March 5, 2011


...where's my bucket?
posted by The Whelk at 6:59 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Photo 17 reminds me of Isengard; all it needs is Saruman's tower in the middle.
posted by verstegan at 7:07 AM on March 5, 2011


In photo 21 it looks like the abyss sent up a sentinel to gaze back into Marc Caillet. (About 1/3 of the way down on the left.)
posted by perspicio at 7:43 AM on March 5, 2011


I haven't thought about this volcano in years...I was actually there in 2002 when all hell broke loose in Goma. Almost didn't get out thanks to some kindly RCD-Goma officers. Never really got a chance to appreciate how beautiful such a destructive force can be. Thanks for posting this and for keeping the Congo on our minds.
posted by cal71 at 7:53 AM on March 5, 2011


The lava is all so orange.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:59 AM on March 5, 2011


A friend who works for the UN brought me back some volcanic rock from Goma.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:28 AM on March 5, 2011


Seems like this would make a good Quake level.
posted by 7segment at 9:29 AM on March 5, 2011


I remember this from Minecraft.
posted by AdamCSnider at 10:00 AM on March 5, 2011


Amazing pictures.

Pity there are no dinosaurs, though.
posted by homunculus at 10:25 AM on March 5, 2011


Time to dig the titanium canoe from the back of the garage.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:33 AM on March 5, 2011


Um, the tungsten canoe.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:33 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


WOW
posted by supermedusa at 10:54 AM on March 5, 2011


These are amazing photos.
posted by carter at 11:21 AM on March 5, 2011


It really wouldn't be hell on earth without a little brimstone, now would it? Of course, our intrepid Mr. Grunewald thought Kawah Ijen more impressive by night.
posted by TedW at 11:42 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


AMAZING photos.

Also: I am no longer allowed to bitch about laundry.
posted by Space Kitty at 12:15 PM on March 5, 2011


For some reason it gave me so much anxiety looking at the pictures of them just walking near that crater. I had to scroll through quickly to be able to look at all of them.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 4:18 PM on March 5, 2011


The thing that's missing from these photos is the sense of heat. I imagine that anyone within spitting distance of lava is standing next to the earth's own blast furnace.
posted by SPrintF at 9:03 PM on March 5, 2011


They are camping by molten lava in a semi-active volcano!

...but, hey, it doesn't get cold at night. Luxury!

I EOL (exclaimed out loud) so much that my son told me to be quiet. Wow! Ah! Wah! Whoa!

I don't know what would be scarier-- being the guy led by radio closer & ever so much closer to the edge of the lake or the guy spotting lava movement with a puny not-fireproof human at the mercy of your observational faculties.
posted by morganw at 9:24 AM on March 6, 2011


The thing that's missing from these photos is the sense of heat.

I know, it's like, "Pretty orange googy stuff!"

"Yes, that stuff is rocks. Rocks so hot that they have melted." People shouldn't be able to get that close to rocks in liquid form.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:57 AM on March 6, 2011


Geez, you guys. You're all "Oh, wow! What pictures!". Well, goody for you. Do you have any idea how much work it was to get my base out of that crater before they started shooting their precious photographs?! I was this close to taking over the entirety of sub-Saharan Africa. But no, the Boston Globe had to get photographs. What's a megalomaniac to do?
posted by Goofyy at 5:00 AM on March 7, 2011


"Yes, that stuff is rocks. Rocks so hot that they have melted." People shouldn't be able to get that close to rocks in liquid form.

Recently I've been experimenting with melting basalt. Playing with a hunk of 2000° molten rock can be a little scary.
posted by the_artificer at 8:59 PM on March 7, 2011


How would you go about melting basalt? I don't want to give the impression that I'm familiar with melting other sorts of rock; feel free to give a general answer rather than a specific one.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:48 PM on March 7, 2011


I'm using an electric muffle furnace and heating up the rock slowly until it starts to melt. So far I haven't taken it to the liquidus stage but eventually I'd like to try casting a couple things with basalt.
posted by the_artificer at 11:18 PM on March 7, 2011


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