HomePhotographyGateway to Hell – Lava Lake Spitting Molten Lava and Searing Heat
Gateway to Hell – Lava Lake Spitting Molten Lava and Searing Heat
Well, is this the gateway to Hell? A very daredevil photographer travels to the edge of a 150-feet wide active lava lake named after Satan’s kingdom. If we must imagine the fiery depths of hell, the mental image can’t be far from these incredible images by Karel Tupy of Ethiopia’s Erta Ale, the world’s oldest continuously active lava lake.
The 35 years old photographer “Tupy” says; he was frightened about his camera may have melted from the scorching heat of the lava as he captured the intimidating scenes of the 150-feet wide basalt volcano. Without any doubt, the view is simply staggering as lava inside the volcano is constantly moving, bubbling, and bursting.
There was immense heat and when I got to the edge of the crater, it was unbearable. After a couple of seconds, my facial skin was so hot, I had to get away. Although, there was a point where I was afraid my camera was going to melt. Lava Lakes can be found in the badland desert area of the Afar Depression in north-eastern Ethiopia, Erta Ale’s famed lava lake formed around 1906 and is one of six in the world.
The volcano’s name translates in the local Afar tribe’s language as “smoking mountain” though the pit to its south is recognized by locals as “The Gateway to Hell”, an appropriate moniker given the luminous lava spitting lava and searing heat. Though locals aren’t particularly welcoming to outsiders and the surrounding terrain is far from hospitable, travelers do make the journey to witness this real natural phenomenon.
In 2009, BBC TV show The Hottest Place on Earth went there to record a world-first 3D laser image of the volcano. Like a true journey to the center of the Earth, volcanoes offer an exclusive window into the planet’s interior. Standing at the lip of the lava lake, you can see why the locals call this “The Gateway to Hell”.
The incandescent bubbling lava lake hisses like some badly burned porridge cauldron, overturning and sporadically belching molten lava. Having gained his own access to the area, in which five people in a group of scientists and tourists were killed while others were taken as hostages in a 2012 attack claimed by the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF), Tupy couldn’t agree more with Dr. Jerram’s impression.
However, the lava is almost 25 feet below the edge, sometimes during a burst the lake spits the lava outside the crater, so you’ve to be very careful not to get hit by it. What you get hit by quite often though is fumes. Whereas is very necessary to avoid contact with lava, apparently, it’s the fumes that can be the worry.
Though, the environment gets far worse than what he experienced. In September 2005 an eruption killed more than 250 heads of livestock and forced locals in the surrounding area to flee. There were more evacuations in August 2007 caused by lava flow, after which two people went missing. The last eruption came in November 2008. This place is something you don’t see every day. As a photographer, I get to see astonishing places, and when you see that people like those photos. This is kind of a reward in itself.