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The active volcano in Vanuatu proved too much for the drones flying over the fiery, spitting pit of lava. Thankfully, the filmmakers were able to capture stunning videos and thousands of photographs before the drones were either consumed by the lava itself or damaged from the incredible amount of heat emanating from it.
"It’s a glimpse into the center of the Earth," said Sam Cossman, an explorer and filmmaker on the mission. "It’s like listening to the heartbeat of the planet.”
Marum crater is a 7.5-mile-wide caldera in Ambrym, a volcanic island in the archipelago of Vanuatu, with poisonous chlorine and sulfur gases that rise from its vent. The large volcanic crater made news last September when a daredevil donned a protective suit and rappelled as close as he could to the churning lake of lava.
Screen capture from National Geographic video
However, the purpose of this particular mission was to investigate how quickly microbial colonization happens on nearby rocks. “The instant the rock cools to below about 120 degrees Celsius, it’s considered an inhabitable environment,” said Jeffrey Marlow, a geobiologist from California Institute of Technology, who participated in the study. “Getting a handle on how microbes colonize this particular substrate is a good example of what will happen across the planet and has happened across the planet throughout geological time."
Apart from providing striking images, the cameras will help the scientists determine how far they were from the volcano when sampling the rock as well as provide 3D reconstruction of the crater.