FEATURE: WATCH: An incredible expedition to Vanuatu’s explosive lava lake

New Zealand filmmaker Geoff Mackley takes you closer to the Marum Volcano lava lake in Vanuatu than any other human has ever been.

After more than a decade of planning, New Zealand filmmaker Geoff Mackley became the first person ever to get this close to the famed lava lake of Vanuatu’s Marum Volcano. Situated on the tiny and remote volcanic island of Ambrym – itself the remnant of an enormous, ancient volcano – this seething lava lake is about the size of 2.5 football fields. And as the video above shows, Mackley got within 30 metres of its glowing orange mouth. 

With the help of his colleagues Bradley Ambrose and Nathan Berg, it took Mackley two hours to descend to the mouth of lava lake, and wearing only a t-shirt and cargo pants, he lasted about six seconds before retreating to get his breathing apparatus and heat-proof proximity suit. Once inside his safety gear, he remained to watch the lake for a further 40 minutes. 

“I didn’t expect to make it to the bottom that day,” Mackley told Robert Tighe at the Red Bulletin. “But after 15 years of trying, there was no way I was not going to run to the edge once I found my way down.”

There are other lava lakes around the world, Mackley says, but getting this close to them would be impossible, because they’re so dangerously volatile. Fortunately for Mackley and his team, the 1,250°C (2,282°F) lava in the Marum Volcano lake remained level throughout the many years he visited it.

“The lava lake at Marum isn’t erupting,” he told Tighe. “The pressure is being released in a very stable manner. Most other volcanoes you can’t get close to, because you don’t know what they’re going to do next.”

Watch the extended version of the video below:

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