Volcano Stories

Watch Volcano Stories

  • 2018
  • 1 Season

Volcanoes dominate life on Earth in myriad surprising ways. They are essential to life, but can also threaten doom. This series journeys to 40 volcanoes, many of them active, on six continents to discover symbiotic links between these fire mountains and the half billion people who live at their feet. These stories are at the heart of a changing planet as well as the diversity of human experience.

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Ecuador: Standing Against the Volcano
20. Ecuador: Standing Against the Volcano
June 15, 2018
In 2006, a town at the base of the Tangurahua volcano was destroyed. The event brought its inhabitants together. They have joined a surveillance network watch the volcano, while resurrecting an ancestral Incan tradition of planting community fields for growing food. Meanwhile, the city of Banos celebrates the Virgin of the sacred water, who is believed to protect against the volcano's anger.
Ecuador: Beneath the Volcanic Glacier
19. Ecuador: Beneath the Volcanic Glacier
June 15, 2018
In Ecuador, the Cotopaxi volcano rises to nearly 6,000 meters in altitude. Glaciers covering its crest are prone to melting and triggering devastating mudslides. Scientific expeditions conducted at such high altitude are a challenge. Local residents stand ready to evacuate their herds should an eruption take place. A shaman maintains an ancient spiritual practice of heating volcanic rocks.
Mauna Loa: Monster of the Pacific
18. Mauna Loa: Monster of the Pacific
June 15, 2018
Mauna Loa is the largest active volcano on the planet. If its unstable flanks were to collapse into the ocean, it cause a tsunami unlike anything in human history. G
Hawaii: the Fires of Kilauea
17. Hawaii: the Fires of Kilauea
June 15, 2018
The Kilauea volcano has been erupting continuously since 1983. It sends glowing streams flowing into the Pacific in a magical commotion of water and fire, transforming the island into an everlasting cycle of creation and destruction. Even as the volcano creates new land, it destroys entire villages. Every week, those who have rebuilt come together and celebrate the bond that ties them to the land.
Guatemala: The Fuego Volcano
16. Guatemala: The Fuego Volcano
June 15, 2018
In Guatemala, the Fuego volcano is permanently active, threatening tens of thousands people who live in its shadow. Gustavo Chigna, a volcanologist, inspects its slopes to measure the quantities of accumulated volcanic materials. In the village of La Trinidad, located five kilometers from the active crater, lives a small community that understands and has prepared for the risks of an eruption.
Guatemala: Volcanoes of the Maya
15. Guatemala: Volcanoes of the Maya
June 15, 2018
In Guatemala, the Santiaguito volcano was born less than 100 years ago. Scientists now come from all over the world to observe its youthful behaviors. But this research is also geared to protecting people and coffee plantations at its foot. For the descendants of the Mayan people, the Santiaguito and many other volcanoes of the region symbolize the creative power of nature.
Unzen: Humans Against the Giant
14. Unzen: Humans Against the Giant
June 15, 2018
Japan's Mount Unzen violently awakened in 1991 after two centuries of sleep. For five years, an outpouring of gas and ash destroyed everything. But the Japanese stood up to the volcano. They created dams to prevent catastrophic mud flows. In Japan, the sense of belonging to the land is very strong, especially when one can enjoy the benefits of geothermal energy: hot baths and volcanic cooking.
Sakurajima: Life Beneath the Ashes
13. Sakurajima: Life Beneath the Ashes
June 15, 2018
In Japan, the Sakurajima volcano erupts almost daily and threatens the 600,000 inhabitants that live at its feet. Every morning, children make their way to school with protective helmets. The ash that accumulates in the village forces the inhabitants to perform a daily cleaning. But these ashes are also a source of benefits. Mr. Shirahama, a farmer, cultivates the largest radishes in the world.
Tanzania: The Maasai Volcano
12. Tanzania: The Maasai Volcano
June 15, 2018
Tanzania's Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano spews liquid black lava that turns snow white when it cools down. Our distant ancestors left footprints that were petrified by the volcano 20,000 years ago. One volcanologist has been studying it intensively by regularly making the treacherous climb to its summit. At its foot, the Maasa
Reunion Island: In the Heart of a Volcano
11. Reunion Island: In the Heart of a Volcano
June 15, 2018
Here at Reunion Island, off Madagascar, is one of the world's most active volcanoes. A volcanologist monitors this volcano closely because of its five annual eruptions. This sleeping giant, the venerable Piton des Neiges volcano, shows traces of millions of years of volcanic activity. This record helps scientists anticipate the future transformations of its neighbor, the Piton de la Fournaise.
Stromboli: From Hell to Paradise
10. Stromboli: From Hell to Paradise
June 15, 2018
The island of Stromboli, part of the Aeolian Island chain off the coast of Sicily, attracts thousands of visitors every year despite its active and dangerous volcano. It owes its renown today to Rossellini's legendary film, Stromboli, featuring Ingrid Bergman, and their tumultuous love story during the film shooting. Before then, the Aeolian islands were poor, inhospitable, and dangerous.
Naples: In the Shadow of Vesuvius
9. Naples: In the Shadow of Vesuvius
June 15, 2018
Vesuvius is one of the world's most famous and dangerous volcanoes. At its feet lies the city of Naples, the third largest city in Italy, and its 970,000 inhabitants. Its eruption, in 79 AD made history and it literally destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. For centuries, Neapolitans have accepted this risk, most unaware that another volcano slumbers nearby ready to awaken.
Kawah Ijen: The Hell of Sulfur
8. Kawah Ijen: The Hell of Sulfur
June 15, 2018
The Indonesian volcano, Kawah Ijen, guards its turbulent interior. Miners extracting sulfur here must work in extreme conditions, often carrying out some 75 kilos of the substance on their backs. Sum Arti, a volcanologist, monitors the level of danger linked to gases and seeks to protect miners from the risk of gas bubbles that can potentially be lethal.
Bromo: The Sacred Volcano of Java
7. Bromo: The Sacred Volcano of Java
June 15, 2018
Every year in Indonesia, a torchlight procession makes its way towards the smoking crater of the Bromo volcano. Thousands of pilgrims make offerings to the crater, which is considered an incarnation of a Hindu god, including fruits, vegetables, chickens, and more. Women and men come to give back to the volcano. They pray that it will grant them life even as it threatens them with death.
Iceland and the Lords of Fire
6. Iceland and the Lords of Fire
June 15, 2018
The volcanoes that formed the ancient island of Iceland impose their will on all its inhabitants. Beyond the risk of fires, a rising source of concern is linked to the glaciers that cover some of these volcanoes. These are monitored daily as their interaction with the volcanic heat, deep down, can generate huge glacial floods that destroy everything on their path.
Volcanic Guardians of Iceland
5. Volcanic Guardians of Iceland
June 15, 2018
In 1973, a powerful eruption destroyed half of the city of Heimaey in Iceland. To access these steep islands, the islanders have had to adapt, using a zip line to hoist their sheep from a frail boat onto the green volcanic island. Further away, Surtsey Island emerged from the waves only 50 years ago in the wake of a violent volcanic eruption, and has become a laboratory for naturalists.
Auvergne: The Sleeping Giants
4. Auvergne: The Sleeping Giants
June 15, 2018
Despite their peaceful demeanor, the volcanoes of Auvergne in France share a tumultuous past. Large reserves of magma have been discovered below them. A new eruption is much more likely. The Pavin Lake is said to be cursed. Although today it remains quiet, many stories reveal that it was surprisingly active until the eighteenth century, with villages being engulfed by a violent outpouring of lava.
New Zealand: Human Treasures
3. New Zealand: Human Treasures
June 15, 2018
Local sources of geothermal energy are one of the great volcanic treasures from "the land of the long white cloud." Some Maori tribes have integrated this natural energy to their daily lives. This phenomenal source of energy also has more modern applications: it can provide enough electricity for 160,000 homes in New Zealand.
New Zealand: Volcanic Lakes in Maori Land
2. New Zealand: Volcanic Lakes in Maori Land
June 15, 2018
White Island, located 40 kilometres off the New Zealand coast, is a unique place, home to a capricious lake of craters that flows into the sea or evaporates depending on magmatic activity. For the Maori people, these volcanic lakes are the sacred home of gods like Ruapehu. When scientists come to study this lake, they abide by their rules and follow the prayers of a Maori guide.
Etna: The Mountain's Mountain
1. Etna: The Mountain's Mountain
June 15, 2018
Mount Etna is the highest and most active volcano in Europe. It erupts once or twice a year, threatening the 900,000 people who live nearby. Each year, half a million Sicilians congregate and pray to Santa Agata, the protector of the city. They pray for protection against the fiery giant. They would never leave this volcanic land, a land of milk and honey and the best oranges in the world.
Description

Volcanoes dominate life on Earth in myriad surprising ways. They are essential to life, but can also threaten doom. This series journeys to 40 volcanoes, many of them active, on six continents to discover symbiotic links between these fire mountains and the half billion people who live at their feet. These stories are at the heart of a changing planet as well as the diversity of human experience.

  • Premiere Date
    June 15, 2018