Fly Over a Spectacular Volcano Eruption

WATCH: Réunion island in the Indian Ocean is home to one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Piton de la Fournaise, filmed here in spectacular eruption.

At Piton de la Fournaise on the island of Réunion, every day is like a glimpse of our planet’s violent youth: Chunks of boiling lava spew upward like molten fireworks, while rivers of fire cut across an ashen, constantly repaved landscape of gray.

Sitting more than 400 miles off Madagascar’s eastern coast, the volcano has been grumbling for 530,000 years, producing extremely fluid, basalt-rich lava flows.

In modern times, it’s been one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, earning its moniker “peak of the furnace.” Since the 17th century, the 8,633-foot-tall peak has erupted more than 150 times.

It’s no surprise that the French-held island’s 900,000 inhabitants treat the volcano with caution. But thanks to drone pilot and Your Shot photographer Jonathan Payet, we get to sneak a peek at the furnace in remarkable detail.

Payet frequently photographs and films the volcano’s ever-changing landscapes and pyrotechnic displays. It’s uncomfortable, occasionally dangerous work: Sometimes, noxious belches of sulfur dioxide require him to pilot his drone while wearing a gas mask.

But Payet’s efforts have paid off. In July 2016, his photography of Piton de la Fournaise won third place in the nature-wildlife category of Dronestagram, a drone-photography contest co-sponsored and co-judged by National Geographic. (See more of the contest’s winning pictures.)

Read This Next

The most ancient galaxies in the universe are coming into view
‘Microclots’ could help solve the long COVID puzzle
How Spain’s lust for gold doomed the Inca Empire

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet