Journey to the Center of the Earth
Nature, third prize singles
August 7, 2010
The lava lake of Mount Nyiragongo, in the Virunga National Park, bubbles at the bottom of the volcano’s immense crater. Persistent lava lakes in volcanic craters are rare, with only five currently known in the world. The one on Mount Nyiragongo varies in size, but has at times been one of the most voluminous lava lakes in the planet’s recent history.
Le Figaro Magazine
Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo
Technical information & keywords
Olivier Grunewald speaks about the project:
"I took this picture from the rim of the huge crater at the beginning of an expedition during which we planned to stay inside the crater for ten days. The goal for the team has been to go down at the bottom of the crater with ropes and to try to go as close as possible of this huge lava lake. Three members of the team approached the ocean of lava within one meter. I was one of the three and took the first pictures so close to the lake."
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About the photographer
Olivier Grunewald was born in Paris in 1959. He started photographing birds at the age of 14. After studying commercial advertising photography at the Gobelins school of images, in Paris, he began to work as freelance photographer specialized in sports, mountaineering and rock climbing. Later, he began to focus more on landscape and wildlife, spending five months in French Guyana working on leatherback turtles - work that was awarded a World Press Photo prize in the nature category in 1995. In 1997, Grunewald began work on a book, Images of Creation, which tells in pictures the story of beginnings of universe and of life on Earth. In the process, he started to photograph the Northern Lights and active volcanoes - for him a fascinating personal discovery that sparked a long-term project on volcanoes and auroras. This project led to two further World Press Photo awards, in 2002 for work on the Northern Light and space weather, and in 2004 with a series of pictures on the volcanoes of Kamtchatka. He now travels all over the world to with his wife, the geographer, journalist and writer Bernadette Gilbertas. Together they have published 14 books, the most recent being a book about Iceland (September 2011).