Apologies for the lack of posts lately, I have been to the centre of the Earth! I was lucky enough to be among the first 250 tourists to visit the magma chamber of Thrihnukagigur, a volcano that last erupted 4000 years ago.
After a 50 minute hike across the lava field, I reached the base camp. Essentially it was a couple of portacabins airlifted there by helicopter. Geared up with a hard hat, headlight and harness, I was ready to walk up to the mouth of the volcano, which until June this year, was not open to the public.
It was first explored in 1974 by a guy who was adventurous enough to explore a hole the locals claimed to be ‘bottomless’. He did so by abseiling down with basic gear but I was luckier- I had a bridge and a cradle, which was set up for the National Geographic Channel to explore last year. Still, it was not for the faint- hearted. To reach the cradle, I needed to use harnesses to ensure safety.
The magma chamber is 150 metres deep- the whole Statue of Liberty could fit in it! Going down towards its bottom was an amazing journey. I could see the magma left on the surface of the rocks- it looked melted but frozen in time.
The photo above was taken at the bottom of the cave that branched out from the base of the magma chamber (see sectional image below), looking up. The whole chamber was filled with rocks (limestone) which has an amazing variation of colours, formed by minerals reacting differently to heat. The black element on the right naturally marked the fissure between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. I was literally standing bewteen the 2 tectonic plates- what a precious opportunity!
Before having to hike back to the pick-up point across the lava field (photo above), we were treated by the base camp with a heart-warming local lamb soup. It was cooked following a traditional local recipe, with rice in it. It tasted strangely Chinese! (without the rice, replacing the lamb with pork!)
I was told that 3 days before my visit, Tom Cruise went down this volcano too! Though he didn’t do it the Mission Impossible abseiling style. He took the cradle just like I did!