Google Maps can now take you deep inside this fiery volcano
Google Maps is like our digital third eye, allowing us to see practically every swath of the Earth's surface. Now the mapping tool can take us underground, into the fiery depths of a volcano.
As of Wednesday, Google's Street View lets users explore one of the world's largest boiling lava lakes. Just track down the Marum crater on the Vanuatuan island of Ambrym.
The lava lake is the latest fascinating, but mostly impractical, addition to Street View. In February, the tech giant added panoramic vistas of southern Greenland.
Vanuatu is an archipelago of 80 tiny islands that lies more than a thousand miles off the coast of Australia. The island Ambrym features two active volcanic cones: Marum and Benbow.
To peer inside Marum's crater, Google enlisted explorers Geoff Mackley and Chris Horsly, who repelled some 1,300 feet into the volcano while wearing the 360-degree Trekker camera. The molten lava lake is roughly the size of two football fields.
"It's like looking into the surface of the sun," Mackley said in a news release. Horsly said he hoped that "by putting this place on the map, people will realize what a beautiful world we live in."
Ambrym is also home to more than 7,000 people, who all live in the rainforest down the mountain.
The village of Endu was nearly destroyed after Cyclone Pam roared across the Pacific Ocean in 2015, causing one of the worst natural disasters in Vanuatu's history. The island nation is considered one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and more extreme storms.
Chief Moses of Endu said his community is steadily recovering from Pam. In the news release, he invited people to come see the village and its volcanoes for themselves — and not just vicariously through Google.