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Common sense might dictate that when a volcano starts erupting, the best thing to do is run away. But for a small and somewhat obsessed band of photographers, news of a new lava-spewing giant somewhere in the world means one thing: It's time to book a flight.
In early April, Martin Rietze spent three sleepless nights huddled next to a large boulder about 1,600 feet from the mouth of Iceland's recently reawakened Eyjafjallajökull volcano, having the time of his life.
Sleepless because when a volcano is throwing car-sized pieces of rock into the air, you can't close your eyes for a second. "It's too dangerous to sleep, so you have to stay up," he says from his home in Eichenau, Germany.
Rietze, an engineer who builds delicate electronics for planetariums, is part of a very small group of mostly men worldwide who spend vacations racing to be as near as possible to molten magma, choking ash clouds and poisonous gases, not to mention a rain of smoking-hot boulders.