“The Volcano Next Door” – A National Geographic Exclusive

I am excited to share with you the following story which will be available in next month’s issue of National Geographic Magazine.  A National Geographic Society representative contacted me this past week to see if I’d be interested in featuring this story.  Obviously, I was more than happy!  Had I not been at a Geological Society of America conference in Pittsburgh at the time, I would have published this post even sooner.  In any case, it’s here now.  The story focuses on the Nyiragongo volcano, which is unique in that it holds in its crater one of only five persistent lava lakes in the world!  I hope you not only enjoy this synopsis, but read the full article at the National Geographic website.

The lava at Nyiragongo is made of an alkali-rich volcanic rock; its unusual composition may be a factor in the lava’s fluidity.  (Photograph by Carsten Peter/National Geographic)

In “The Volcano Next Door,” from the April issue of National Geographic magazine, writer Michael Finkel takes readers on a journey of 1800°F temperatures, killer gases, and fiery eruptions.  The article, which can be found here:  http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/04/nyiragongo-volcano/finkel-text, follows scientists as they descend to the scorching lava lake of Nyiragongo, a two-mile-high volcano that has the potential to destroy the nearly one million people that live at its base near the eastern edge of the Democratic Republic on the Congo.  The following excerpt comes from the April issue of National Geographic magazine:

When? This is the question that has brought two of the world’s leading volcano scientists to the center of Africa; it’s the question that haunts a team of Congolese seismologists; it’s the question that may determine the fate of close to one million people. When will Nyiragongo erupt?

Nyiragongo is a two-mile-high volcano towering over the eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)—one of the most active volcanoes on the planet and also one of the least studied. The chief reason for the lack of research is that for the past 20 years the eastern DRC has seen nearly constant warfare, including a spillover of the massacres in neighboring Rwanda. One of the largest United Nations forces in the world, some 20,000 troops, currently maintains a fragile, and often broken, peace.

At the base of the volcano sprawls the city of Goma, growing by the day as villagers from the countryside seek refuge from rebel and government forces. An estimated million people are now crammed into Goma.

by Michael Finkel/National Geographic

With temperatures around 1800°F, the lava lake is wildly erratic. As molten rock meets the air, it cools and forms plates on the lake's surface. (Photograph by Carsten Peter/National Geographic)

Photographer Carsten Peter tests the thermal suit that Sims used to get close to the lava lake. "It can protect you from the radiant heat, but if you get hit with a lava splatter, the force will likely kill you," he says. For 30 years Peter has explored volcanoes around the world. "Seeing at close range the primal forces that shaped the planet can be hypnotic. You cannot allow yourself to fall under a volcano's spell, especially one as unpredictable as Nyiragongo. That can be a fatal mistake." (Photograph by Carsten Peter)

These stunning photographs and more are available in the April 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine, on newsstands March 29.  You may also find more of National Geographic photographer Carsten Peter’s photos taken at the Nyiragongo volcano on the NGS website here:   http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/04/nyiragongo-volcano/peter-photography.

The April 2011 issue of National Geographic Magazine is available on newsstands March 29.

Special thanks to National Geographic for asking me to feature this story and for allowing the use of their photographs!

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3 responses to ““The Volcano Next Door” – A National Geographic Exclusive

  1. Pingback: Membuka Wawasan bersama National Geographic | Life, Science, and Islam·

  2. Pingback: For My Son « Mike's Take…·

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