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Man vs. Volcano

Mt. Nyiragongo, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo: Expedition members are barely visible on the 2nd terrace of Mt. Nyiragongo's crater as they look down to the 3rd terrace and immense spatter cone surrounding the lava lake. (Photo Credit: Carsten Peter/National Geographic)

This Thursday, April 7th, National Geographic presents Man vs. Volcano, as part of their Expedition Week series of specials.
Journey into the mouth of Africa’s most active volcano, Nyiragongo, and stand on the shore of the world’s largest lava lake.  Join an expedition with a National Geographic Magazine photographer and an international team of scientists as they reach the volcano’s summit — a near-vertical 11,385 feet — and then rappel directly into its mouth — 1,300 feet — nearly the height of the Empire State Building.  With little doubt it will erupt again, the team hopes to take stunning images and gather geological samples to unlock the secrets of one of most dangerous and least studied volcanoes in the world.

Prepare yourself for the experience with this sneak preview, a collection of photographs of Nyiragongo from National Geographic.


Mt. Nyiragongo, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo: The plume from the lava lake from Africa's largest active volcano. (Photo Credit: 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." (Photo Credit: Carsten Peter/National Geographic)

Read about the Nyiragongo volcano in an article by Michael Finkel, The Volcano Next Door, in this month's issue of National Geographic magazine.

Mt. Nyiragongo, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo: Expedition members stand at the edge of the 2nd terrace at night. (Photo Credit: © NGT)

Mt. Nyiragongo, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo: Over 100 porters carry the expedition's camping, climbing and scientific gear to the summit of Mt. Nyiragongo. (Photo Credit: © NGT)

Mt. Nyiragongo, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo: The plume from the lava lake from Africa's largest active volcano. (Photo Credit: © NGT)

Mt. Nyiragongo, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo: Expedition members are barely visible on the 2nd terrace of Mt. Nyiragongo's crater as they look down to the 3rd terrace and immense spatter cone surrounding the lava lake. (Photo Credit: © NGT)

Mt. Nyiragongo, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo: Expedition member Chris Heinlein stands on the 2nd terrace -- a flat beach-like surface of volcanic ash. (Photo Credit: © NGT)

Mt. Nyiragongo, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo: A Virunga National Park Ranger pauses from his patrol of the Nyiragongo's rim to look down at the lava lake below. Rebels and poachers remain a threat to park and its visitors. (Photo Credit: © NGT)

Mt. Nyiragongo, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo: Mt. Nyiragongo's lava lake is the largest in the world. The temperatures of the magma within can reach 1,000 degrees Celsius. (Photo Credit: © NGT)

Mt. Nyiragongo, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo: A twilight view from Mt. Nyiragongo's summit. The rising plume is highly corrosive and precipitates into acid rain. (Photo Credit: © NGT)

Mt. Nyiragongo, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo: A twilight view from Mt. Nyiragongo's summit. A park ranger stands guard. (Photo Credit: © NGT)

Mt. Nyiragongo, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo: Expedition members stand at the edge of the 2nd terrace at night. (Photo Credit: © NGT)

Mt. Nyiragongo, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo: Expedition member Chris Heinlein sets the ropes that will enable the scientists to make a full descent into the crater of Mt. Nyiragongo. (Photo Credit: © NGT)

Mt. Nyamulgira, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo: A rare view from above Mt. Nyamulgira, Mt. Nyiragongo's equally active neighbor. Its most recent eruption was in January 2010. (Photo Credit: © NGT)

Mt. Nyiragongo, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo: A view of the summit of Mt. Nyiragongo from a UN helicopter. (Photo Credit: © NGT)

Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo: Over one million people live in the shadow of Mt. Nyiragongo. Since the volcano's 2002 eruption, the population of Goma has more than doubled. (Photo Credit: © NGT)

African Volcano Quest


(video link)

Geologists and photographers meet to plan their journey to the summit of a very active volcano.

Spatter Cone


(video link)

Photographer Carsten Peter risks life and limb to get a shot from inside the spatter cone.

Man vs. Volcano airs on National Geographic Channel on Thursday, April 4 at 10PM ET/PT as part of the signature event, Expedition Week, preceded by Into the Iceland Volcano on the same night at 9PM ET/PT. National Geographic Magazine photographer Carsten Peter’s story and photos are also featured in the April 2011 issue of National Geographic Magazine (“The Volcano Next Door”), on newsstands now.

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