In September 2014, Sam Cossman made headlines for pulling off a stunt where he descended into the crater of Marum, an active volcano on the Ambrym Island in Vanuatu.
Many called it highly reckless but no one can deny it was the very definition of living on the edge, most especially when one comes back alive from what locals call "the entrance to hell."
Cossman is at it again, this time armed with drones, visiting the Marum Crater once more as a researcher.
The "volcano diver" took with him several DJI Phantom 2 drones fitted with GoPro cameras. More than just the thrill of seeing an active volcano so close, Cossman is back to producing 3D renders of Marum's unique formation. Utilizing software from PIX4D, the renders will aid scientists in better understanding the volcano, which will help in predicting volcanic activity in the future.
The lava lake within Marum's crater features one of the rarest volcanic characteristics in the world and for the first time scientists now know just how big it was, with exact dimensions determined through Cossman's drones.
"Precise measurements, such as the crater's volumetric mass, for instance, are useful in understanding the level of energy required for an eruption and informs potential risk levels for the future," he explained.
As drones can go to places people can't, they can also be used for finding other sites where lava is collected.
Cossman may have ventured back to Marum with a scientific purpose, but the explorer also very much wanted to see the crater again.
"To look into a lava-filled crater with so much force and perpetual energy and fire on Earth, it really gives you a glimpse into what you can imagine formed the Earth. It helps give you a perspective on things you rarely have the chance to see with your own eyes; it's a window in that ancient world, a visualization of creation," he said.
The entirety of Ambrym is actually a volcano. Marum Crater is located on the island's caldera. A shield volcano, Ambrym was formed as a result of lava flowing and eventually cooling. Shield volcanoes are large but are generally low-profile because they spew basaltic lava. They also produce a lot of magma, so lava undergoes little change from the time it was made to the time it was released by the volcano. Other shield volcanoes include Mauna Loa and Kilauea in Hawaii.