Watch These Active Volcanoes Bubble, Explode, and Spark - Atlas Obscura
Join us on an Atlas Obscura Trip in 2019 »

Watch These Active Volcanoes Bubble, Explode, and Spark

Nature can be violent sometimes.

Right now, Mount Nyiragongo, an active stratovolcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been spewing lava about every minute, reports the Weather Channel.

Scientists are more concerned about the amount of lava emitted from the Nyiragongo than eruptions. In 2002, a volcanic event sent 400,000 people running and resulted in 147 dead. Lava even overflowed onto Goma International Airport’s runway.  

In the original footage of the Goma Volcano Observatory scientists’ expedition, they estimate that the volcano is spewing between a few hundred thousand to more than one million cubic meters of lava per hour. “This amount per hour is in the range of what has been emitted during the two events of 1977 and 2002,” the scientist narrating the video says. “The difference is that the two eruptions lasted 32 minutes and 12 hours respectively, while this new event is on for 60 days.”

While the research group says that the Mount Nyiragongo doesn’t show any imminent danger, more studies need to be conducted to understand future activity.

Masaya Volcano

At the Masaya volcano south of Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, scientists bask in front of oozing lava with their cameras perched as they film the bubbling volcano. The chaotic activity deep beneath the earth’s crust contrasts the soft orange glow that washes over the rugged 900-foot walls of the caldera.  

The footage, taken by geoscientist Wilfried Strauch, the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies, and the Nicaraguan government, shows the recent short-lived lava lakes that have formed in the Masaya volcano’s main crater. In slow-motion, you can watch the bright orange lakes bubble and boil with steaming molten lava, and at the one-minute mark you can see lava burst up-close.

It’s said that when the volcano was first discovered, Spanish conquistadors were so entranced by the beautiful lava lakes that they tried to take the molten “gold.” The volcano is also known for having large eruptions like the sudden explosion in 2001 that caused small fires, damaged cars, and left two visitors injured.  

Kilauea Volcano

In this clip of the Kilauea volcano near Kalapana, Hawaii, you can see the power and violence of volcanoes. The scene is a primordial landscape akin to those of when the earth was born. The three-minute, slow-motion video shows a diverse array of volcanic activity from geysers of lava, hot plumes, volcanic cloud vortexes, and even lightning.

The scientists at the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes at the University of Hawaii, Hilo explain that the lightning (at the 2:30-mark) in eruption columns is caused by “small particles of volcanic material colliding with one another at high speeds, and these collisions can result in separation of charges in the volcanic cloud that result in lightning.”

Lightning is not often seen among Hawaii volcanoes, but in July 2008 an ocean swell helped generate an especially large plume at Kilauea volcano that caused the strikes.

Every day we track down a Video Wonder: an audiovisual offering that delights, inspires, and entertains. Have you encountered a video we should feature? Email ella@atlasobscura.com.