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Google Maps Takes Things Up a Notch

Image: Google
Google Maps Takes Things Up a Notch
Christina Comben

If you’re used to using Google Maps as your way of exploring the world, you’ll love its latest developments. Google Maps can now take you deep inside the fiery pits of Marum volcano! Forget about making sure you don’t get lost on your way to an interview, or checking out a real estate listing. Now you can experience a boiling lava lake.

On Wednesday of last week, Google’s Street View allowed its users to go deep inside the Marum crater on the island of Ambrym. Ambrym is one of 80 microscopic islands on the Vanuatu archipelago, over a thousand miles off the north-east coast of Australia. It has two active volcanoes, Marum and Benbow.

Inside a volcano

How was Google able to make this happen? To get a closer look inside Marum’s crater, explorers Chris Horsly and Geoff Mackley lent their expertise. They repelled about 1,300 feet into the depths of the volcano, each fitted with a 360-degree Trekker camera. The boiling lava lake is vast – around the size of two football pitches.

“It’s like looking into the surface of the sun,” said Mackley when questioned afterwards. Horsly added that he hoped his contribution would put this magical place on the map and help “people realize what a beautiful world we live in.”

Bringing the world to your living room

While undeniably stunning, being able to see the inside of a volcano is hardly of high utility to most Maps users. After all, it’s unlikely you’ll need directions to this remote corner of the world. But, it is great as an educational and exploratory tool. Ambrym isn’t only home to two active volcanoes. Around 7,000 people still live there, in the rainforests around the mountain.

Why would anyone choose to live next to an active volcano? The threat of eruption is minimal and volcanic soils are extremely fertile for crops. In fact, the volcanoes on this tiny island are not the greatest natural disaster to worry about. In 2015, Cyclone Pam grew in force across the Pacific Ocean and tore through the village of Endu. Almost destroying the entire population, Pam was one of the worst disasters in the history of Vanuatu.

A part of the world plagued by natural disasters

The archipelago of Vanuatu is one of the world’s most vulnerable areas for natural disasters. The harmful effects of climate change and rising sea levels are provoking more aggressive storms and putting places like this at further risk of extinction.

Yet despite the hot zone area, it is undeniably one of great natural beauty. Endu is recovering well from the effects of Pam and steadily getting back on its feet. So, who knows? Instead of living the volcanic experience vicariously through Google, perhaps one day, you’ll even go and visit it yourself?

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