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A GoPro gave its life so you could watch this way-too-close volcano footage

Volcanic eruptions surely are one of the most fascinating natural phenomena. Considering that they can destroy entire cities and even affect the climate on a global scale, they’re also one of the most frightening natural phenomena. Getting close-up with an active volcano, then, requires a fair amount of daringness.

The good thing is, volcanic eruptions can be predicted to a degree, and if you’re visiting a volcano whose activity is well-known, you can prepare accordingly and minimize the risk. Still, you shouldn’t get too close to that sputtering lava, because its heat is so intense that it can be felt even from a great distance. Eric Cheng, Director of Aerial Imaging at DJI (you know, the guys who make the Phantom copters) learned about a volcano’s destructive nature the hard way.

Actually, it wasn’t so much Eric who got to feel the heat of the Bárðarbunga volcano in Iceland, but rather the GoPro Hero3+ action cam that he attached to one of the DJI copters he used to film the Holuhraun lava field which is part of Bárðarbunga’s fissure system. During the filming process, he recalls, the video feed suddenly turned black, and when he recalled the drone copter he noticed that the entire front of the GoPro camera had been melted by the heat of the eruptions.

Luckily, it was only the camera itself that was damaged, not the MicroSD card inside it, and Eric was able to salvage the footage that the GoPro had recorded until the moment that the intense heat of the volcano fried its systems. The results is an epic video of volcanic eruptions that wouldn’t have been possible without modern technology such as aerial drones and actions cams.

If you’d like to take a peek behind how the video was made, and hear the story of the melted GoPro from Eric’s perspective, there’s also a behind-the-scenes video that you can watch below. Apparently, the world needs a volcano-proof action cam, and quite possibly also a volcano-proof drone copter. DJI and GoPro, are you listening?

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Felix Esser
Felix is a freelance tech journalist with a strong focus on photography. Based out of central Germany, he contributes to…
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