Down the throat of an active volcano - Mt Etna smoke and shadow, photo by Kevin Ford.
If you approached the rim of a volcano and looked down into it, you might expect to see a lava pool, but if the volcano previously erupted and then the top of it collapsed into a huge bowl-shaped crater, or caldera, then what you might see when you peer over the rim is a beautiful crater lake. Sometimes the water is acidic and the lake has a bright greenish hue. Other times the water is a cloudy turquoise color, yet other times the lake may appear to be a very deep shade of blue. Crater Lake, Oregon, is one of the most well known, but crater lakes can be found all over the globe. If the volcano has been dormant for a long time, the water can be extremely clear because no river or streams flow into with sediment deposits. In some cases, water may have filled up an impact crater to form a lake, but this is less common. A few crater lakes were created by man via an atomic blast, but an artificially-created crater lake is the least common of all. All crater lakes were once a place where the earth experienced great violence, but now are a place of great beauty … even though the volcano can become active and violent again.
In April 2010, the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull spewed great ash clouds into the sky and caused enormous disruptions to air travel in Europe. The eruptions are best remembered for this inconvenience, but photographer James Appleton managed to capture the event in a different way. In the weeks before the disturbances, a vulcanologist friend of his alerted him to the unfolding volcanic drama, and Appleton travelled straight to the Icelandic mountain before it was closed off. Risking his life to battle extreme cold, high winds, and seismic activity, Appleton captured a rare but gorgeous scene: the glowing lava from an Eyjafjallajökull fissure with the Northern Lights—Aurora Borealis—overhead. These are two very different light sources, so “the photograph needed parts of the scene selectively blocked for sections of the exposure to balance the contrast,” Appleton recalls. “A Mars bar wrapper came in handy for this!”