A mix of ropes and ladders eases access to Warren Cave

We’ve come to one of the coldest spots on Earth to search for beings that thrive in blistering heat. In a place with full daylight for four months, we’re seeking life that dwells in utter darkness. Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of Antarctica’s Mt. Erebus. Above: A mix of ropes and ladders eases access to Warren Cave, a labyrinth of passages melted from the ice by the volcano’s heat. Small currents of air probably cause the scalloping around the cave’s entrance.  Image © Carsten Peter / National Geographic


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Ice and snow in the foreground, the lava lake of Mount Erebus below

Image © Carsten Peter / National Geographic

A study in contrasts: ice and snow in the foreground, the lava lake of Mount Erebus below. Erebus is one of just a handful of volcanoes to boast a permanent lava lake. At the moment this picture was taken, the volcano was quiet, but it frequently erupts, hurling lava bombs high in the air.

ipad edition Mount Erebus, Antarctica

The images are from the July edition of National Geographic magazine for iPad, available on the App Store.

Mount Erebus main crater of the volcano is quiet, exuding just a few puffs of steam

Image © Carsten Peter / National Geographic

On a clear evening the main crater of the volcano is quiet, exuding just a few puffs of steam. Abutting it is another crater, now extinct. Beyond, a dreamscape of sea ice and ocean stretches to the mountains and dry valleys of the Antarctic mainland.

It's midnight, but with the light so bright, it's hard to stop exploring the ice towers

Image © Carsten Peter / National Geographic

It’s midnight, but with the light so bright, it’s hard to stop exploring the ice towers. This is one of the biggest on Erebus, but the flux of heat and moisture from below has collapsed its side. In the distance, beyond another ice tower, the Hut Point Peninsula extends like a finger toward Mount Discovery.

Mount Erebus: Inside the ice caves the volcano's warm

Image © Carsten Peter / National Geographic

Inside the ice caves the volcano’s warm, wet air freezes into frost crystals that grow into different shapes, depending on how the air currents flow. Here, a team member investigates the passages of Hut Cave.

National Geographic

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