The sun blazes down onto azure water as the boat floats a safe distance from what looks like an idyllic mountaintop. Suddenly, though, a plume of smoke bursts out, which would not be jarring in and of itself but for the subtle movement of air that can be seen in the pushing aside of the clouds overhead.
“Watch out for the shock, it’s coming,” says the videographer, Phil McNamara, on the boat. No sooner are the words out of his mouth than there is a huge sonic BOOM, like a cannon on steroids, and the boat jerks.
This is nature at her most powerful, the humbling reminder that creatures, including we humans, exist on this earth at its whim.
Tavurvur actually burst into life almost simultaneously with Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano, back in August 2014. But as the Washington Post noted at the time, “their surroundings could not be more different.”
Tavurvur is in tropical Papua New Guinea and erupted for the first time since 2006, causing concern that ash could disrupt air travel to Australia. That did not materialize, either there or for Bardarbunga, which is encased in glacial ice.
Of course, not all volcanoes erupt this way. Oozing lava from Kilauea volcano in Hawaii is continuing to ooze inexorably through the Hawaian town of Pahoa.
For a look and a listen to the might of Tavurvur, see the video below.