A team of photographers took a unique approach to documenting the eruption of four active volcanoes within 110 miles of each other on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia by flying low over the volcano in a chopper while using a 360D cam to film the scene.
They used the images to create a 360-degree interactive virtual tour of the volcanic area (view the interactive panorama above!).
Spiegel reports that while volcanic eruptions are not extremely rare, four volcanoes close to each other erupting at once is rare event in nature. According to Spiegel, the four different volcanoes, all within 180 kilometers (110 miles) of each other, have been active simultaneously on the Russian peninsula since late November.
A team of photographers and videographers from the non-profit Moscow-based group, Airpano, who specialize in creating high-resolution 3D aerial panoramas realized that the rare phenomenon was an opportunity to produce awesome images and videos. The Airpano team filmed the volcanic peninsula from the air in a helicopter. They also filmed and took photographs from the ground which they used to create a 360-degree interactive virtual tour of the area.
According to Spiegel, the crew spent three days photographing and filming under temperatures as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit with wind gusts up to 34 mph.
The four volcanoes were erupting at the same time. Experts believe the four volcanoes have four separate sources of magma, which is what makes the Kamchatka phenomenon even more spectacular.
Spiegel comments: "Given that volcano experts don't believe that the four volcanoes are being fed from the same magma source, the parallel eruptions would seem to be the geological equivalent of winning the lottery."
The video below shows how the Airpano crew was able to film the rare natural event.
According to the Daily Mail, the peninsula has a land mass nearly the size of Germany and is one of the most active parts of the zone of volcanic and seismic activity known as the "Ring of Fire," in the Pacific region.
Three tectonic plates converge at Kamchatka, namely, the North American Plate, the Okhotsk Plate and the Pacific Plate. The region has about 30 active volcanoes.
The four volcanoes that are now active include:
Plosky Tolbachik: Part of the Tolbachik Volcano system, which includes the extinct Ostry Tobalchik. Plosky Tolbachik began spewing lava on November 27, 2012 of last year. According to Airpano, the Tolbachik Volcano system is the largest of the south-western sector of the Klyuchevskaya volcanic group that was formed about 10,000 years ago in the Early Holocene.
Shiveluch: This is the northernmost of the four volcanoes. It has been shooting columns of ash high into the air in the last four years after a magma dome in its crater exploded.
Besymjanny: The volcano became active in the 1950s after 10 centuries of dormancy. It has remained active since then producing clouds of ash regularly.
Kisimen: The volcano has been active since 2010, and experts fear it could experience a violent eruption.
Oleg Gaponyuk, member of the Airpano crew, said: "The Tolbachik volcano eruption is classified as an unconventional fissure eruption. Fissure eruptions are known for emitting great volume of lava. They are also called 'touristic' eruptions for relatively low level of danger and photogenic beauty of flowing rivers of lava. Weather permitting, one can fly up close to a volcanic crater or hover right above a lava stream. We knew it all in theory, but in reality we kept our fingers crossed for a good weather."
Stas Sedov, another member of the team, described how they hovered over the lava flow in their helicopter, risking strong winds and cloudy conditions. He said: "The volcano in front of us is covered with clouds and smoke. We decide to move up the lava flow. Finally there are the first red hot lava streams underneath us! We slow down the helicopter and shoot several spherical panoramas. We are overwhelmed - we finally saw IT!" He continued: "Ascending flows of hot air threw the helicopter side to side like a feather, but Dmitry held it over the spot as if it was tied to an invisible anchor. Every time I looked out of the window with my camera it felt like I was sticking my head into a hot oven. Everyone was perspiring from unbearable heat and concentration."