Until 20 people were killed by an eruption in 2019, some 10,000 people visited Whakaari / White Island each year, carried from the mainland by boat or helicopter. It was one of the few places in the world where you could walk into the crater of an active volcano. Swirling ash and noxious gases could make the experience unpleasant, however, and gas masks were essential.
This photograph was taken in 1977 on an exceptionally clear day, when the wind was blowing away from the photographer. The active vent is discharging pale brown ash, while fumaroles (gas vents) are ejecting white steam and acid gases. The atmosphere is highly corrosive, and can quickly ruin clothing.
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Photograph by Simon Nathan
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