Lava to Ash T e lava here is diff erent in another way, too.
Most cooled lava turns into hard rock and stays hard for a long time. T is lava doesn’t. Aſt er it cools, it can fall
apart easily. All it takes is a little moisture. T at’s because the mix of ingredients in this lava is unusual. It has more carbon dioxide and sodium in it than most other lavas. T ese ingredients react when they come into
contact with water. Within days, the cooled lava turns from muddy black to silvery gray, then snowy white. It becomes a kind of powdery salt that looks like snow. T is ash covers the volcano. In some places,
it’s many centimeters thick. It coats my boots and blows into my eyes. It also washes into the valley below and flows into a lake. T e ash helps make the lake super salty. It’s
so salty, little can live in this water. A kind of algae thrives, though. It turns the lake bright red. Flamingos flock to the lake to eat the algae. T e birds are beautiful.
Up Close To me, though, the lava is even more beautiful.
Now that I know where it’s safe to walk, it’s time to explore and take photos. I head to a dome and climb it. I hear a faint
sputter of magma under my feet. It doesn’t seem too dangerous. A little later, I learn how wrong I am. I’m
exploring another part of the crater when I hear a loud noise. Bang! A dome bursts. Lava gushes out. It
quickly flows across the crater. Luckily, no one is in the lava’s path. I take it
as a warning. T is volcano can turn dangerous in a split second. I always need to be careful. I am careful as I climb one of the chimneys.
Even so, pieces of rock break off in my hands. T e whole rock formation shakes. I can hear magma rumbling. My heart pounds. I know there’s only a layer of crumbly rock between danger and me. It’s too risky, even for me. So I climb back down.
16 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER
Always Changing One night, the volcano rumbles so much that I
can’t sleep. Instead, I climb close to an erupting chimney and take photos all night. Aſt er a week here, it’s time to leave. I hate
to go. I want to remember every moment. So I stand on the edge of the crater, close my eyes, and listen. T e vibrating ground rumbles. T e bubbling magma gurgles. T e flowing lava roars. T e cooling lava crackles. To me, it sounds like glass cups clinking together. T en I open my eyes and take a last look.
By the time I return, this volcano will look diff erent. Already, the rock shaped like a wing has crumbled. It was there one minute. T en poof! It shattered and was gone. I know this odd volcano will keep changing.
Domes will collapse, sending new rivers of black lava flowing across the crater. Lava will spurt and gush, making new shapes. T at makes me want to come back. I want to
listen to this volcano’s music again. I want my photos to capture its features forever.
Lava erupts near a member of Peter’s climbing team.
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