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GEOTHERMAL JOURNEY. "Volcanoes, Ring of Fire," a special episode of the Globe Trekker travel series airing Sunday, May 24 on Oregon Public Broadcasting Plus, explores explosive volcanic sites such as Krakatoa, Mount Fuji, Kilauea, Mount St. Helens, and Pompeii. Pictured is Globe Trekker host Megan McCormick near Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii. (Photo courtesy of Pilot Productions USA)
From The Asian Reporter, V19, #19 (May 19, 2009), page 16 & 20.
"Ring of Fire" explores beauty and danger of volcanoes
By Pamela Ellgen
A recorded message with an eruption update on Kilauea in Hawaii begins the Globe Trekker adventure, "Volcanoes: Ring of Fire."
"Aloha! The eruption of Kilauea Volcano continues. Lava is flowing underground through a lava tube to the sea. However, where lava enters the ocean, huge steam clouds flash skyward. Hiking toward the steam cloud is not recommended," the message cautions.
Ignoring the warning, Globe Trekker presenter Megan McCormick sets off toward the Pacific Ocean, where lava from Kilauea spews out of the earth and spills into the water, igniting an exciting journey about volcanic hotspots around the world — including, of course, the deadly Pacific Ring of Fire.
After Kilauea, Globe Trekker visits some of the major volcanoes in Europe, including Mount Vesuvius near Pompeii, the Italian island of Stromboli, and Greece’s island of Santorini. After that, it’s off to Mount Fuji in Japan.
Rising through the mist and often invisible from any distance, Fujiyama is considered by the Japanese to be the gateway between heaven and earth. Globe Trekker presenter Ian Wright makes the climb with a local guide, stopping halfway up for bottled oxygen and farther on for a quick night’s sleep before venturing to the top with a rush hour of other tourists. If Mount Fuji were to erupt today, it would cause major loss of life. However, the giant remains quiet for now.
Until 1980, Mount St. Helens here in the Pacific Northwest was considered America’s Mount Fuji due to similarities in shape. However, that changed 29 years ago — on May 18, 1980 — when the volcano erupted in an unexpected fashion, drastically changing the topography and shape of the mountain.
Although Mount St. Helens was the most significant eruption in the contiguous U.S., it and some of the other volcanoes visited by Globe Trekker are overshadowed by even more significant eruptions such as the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, the second largest terrestrial eruption of the last century. But, with more than 1,000 known volcanoes worldwide, there’s only so much globe trekking that can be done in a one-hour television piece.
Beautiful cinematography makes the exotic locations of the show even more breathtaking. Shots of volcanic eruptions at sunset, whitewashed buildings perched on the edge of Santorini overlooking azure waters, and snowy vistas from 19,000 feet highlight the beauty of some of nature’s most ruthless killers.
Throughout the piece, the death toll wrought by volcanoes climbs. America’s 57 deaths in the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens pale in comparison to the more than 36,000 people who died in Indonesia nearly 100 years before. The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa could be heard as far away as Australia and Sri Lanka. Tremors from the blast were recorded all the way to the English Channel and off the coast of Alaska.
Volcanoes have power for more than just death and destruction, however. The Globe Trekker special closes with a brief look at the harnessing of volcanic activity in El Salvador, where the country derives 25 percent of its power from geothermal energy.
Globe Trekker effectively combines science, cultural anthropology, history, and brilliant photography to present this fascinating piece.
"Volcanoes, Ring of Fire" airs Sunday, May 24 at 9:00pm on Oregon Public Broadcasting Plus. To verify showtimes, call (503) 293-1982 or visit <www. opb.org>. To learn more, visit <www.globetrekkertv.com>.