Geology And Geophysics
This slide taken in 1943 shows a spectacular view of an eruption of Paricutin at night.

Descending into Live Erupting Volcano



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This slide taken in 1943 shows a spectacular view of an eruption of Paricutin at night.
Terrence Aym's image for:
"Descending into Live Erupting Volcano"
Caption: This slide taken in 1943 shows a spectacular view of an eruption of Paricutin at night.
Location: 
Image by: R.E. Wilcox, U.S. Geological Survey
© Image is in public domain - it contains materials that originally came from NOAA. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paricutin_30_613.jpg

What do you do for entertainment? Kick back and watch a favorite movie? Drop in on a hot new dance club? Read a good book?

How boring! Instead of following the crowd, why not do something really entertaining—like rappelling into the steaming caldera of an erupting volcano? Too hot to handle? Not for these guys…

Forget the storm chasers who run after killer tornadoes...compared to the volcano freaks the weak-kneed tornado tumblers are what Arnold Schwarzenegger once termed "girly men."

Volcano vaulters are crazy, to be sure, but come on folks, you've got to admire anyone that can make skydivers, mountain climbers and deep sea divers look like mundane Walter Mittys.

Magma men and the gates of hell

Boiling lava beckons them like mindless moths to a naked flame. An incredible video records it all as the daredevil magma men face almost certain death staring down the angry volcano god that dwells within the bowels of the Marum Volcano in Vanuatu near Australia.

The air reeks with poisonous fumes and the heat is so intense it can fry bacon in seconds and melt automobiles in minutes.

As you watch one of the guys—wrapped inside a silvery heat-proof suit—he steps over the edge and rappels calmly down singed climbing ropes. Onwards he goes, descending steadily towards the furiously boiling, exploding lava lake.

Haven't these guys ever seen what happened to that wretched victim in "Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom?"

Probably not. But even if they've seen the movie they don't seem to care a wit. It's downwards into fiery destruction towards a ledge more than 1,500 feet below where they can pitch a tiny tent nearer the warmth of liquefied rock.

A tent.

Viral video must be seen to be believed!

The action is real…the danger intense…the guys, well, quite frankly they're nuts.

All of this was filmed by vulcanologist Geoff Mackley on Ambrym Island in the South Pacific. The scientist admitted that the volcano could explode at any time and incinerate them all like insects crisped by a bug-zapper. He shrugs and a smile flits across his face. Sure the Marum volcano violently erupted just a couple years earlier, but that only adds to the fun, right?

The active volcano is classified as highly dangerous. The team stands at the rim of the crater watching the volcano belch poisonous gas clouds into the sky. Reports from volcano watchers confirm that Marum often shoots plumes of super-heated volcanic ash a mile high.

Mackley's website boasts that "Nothing else in life will ever compare to the mind-blowing rush of being so close to a spectacle like this."

Some may argue that a successful date, a romantic fireside chat over a good bottle of wine, and a willing partner is vastly more exciting than "the mind-blowing rush" of knowing that one misstep will result in vaporization and your ashes being belched into the stratosphere.

But then those that would argue that aren't a vulcanologist.

Photos

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A very warm reception

A cheerful wave from the depths of hell

Abseiling into live volcano

Video: "Most incredible volcano footage ever"

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More about this author: Terrence Aym

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