“NATURE: LIVING VOLCANOES”

Nature brings us into the fascinating and dangerous world of “Living Volcanoes.” We have a preview of the adventure!

For more information on “Nature: Living Volcanoes,” click here.

Aired on February 20, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> LAST MAY, THE KILAUEA VOLCANO ERUPTED AND SPEWING LAVA OVER AND BURYING HUNDREDS OF HOMES BENEATH THE MOLTEN ROCK.

FRAGILE ECOSYSTEMS WERE DESTROYED.

THE EVENT WAS THE LATEST VIVID REMINDER OF THE AWE INSPIRING POWER OF VOLCANOS.

SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN THE SOURCE OF HUMAN FASCINATION FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS.

LIVING VOLCANOS, THE LATEST INSTALLMENT FROM THE AWARD WINNING PBS SERIES NATURE TAKES VIEWERS ON THE MOST ACTIVE VOLCANOS IN EARTH AND FOLLOWS THE ADVENTURERS AS THEY GO INTO THE SOUTH PACIFIC ISLAND.

HERE'S A LOOK.

OUR PLANET IS BURSTING AT THE SEAMS.

AROUND THE WORLD, HUNDREDS OF VOLCANOS COULD EXPLODE WITHOUT WARNING.

NOW WE CAN DESCEND TO THE EDGE OF THE VOLCANO'S BEATING HEART.

THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST INHOSPITABLE PLACES ON THE PLANET.

AND DISCOVER THE SECRETS TO THE ORIGINS OF LIFE.

MORE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN INTO SPACE THAN INTO THE MAGICAL PLACES.

AND JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT LIVING VOLCANOS IS NATURE SERIES EDITOR, JENNA HESS.

WELCOME BACK TO THE PROBLEM.

THANK YOU.

QUICKLY, WHAT ARE VOLCANOS?

HOW DO THEY COME TO BE?

WELL, VOLCANOS IN AN AMAZING WAY ARE KIND OF A LOOK INTO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH.

THEY REALLY ARE A CRACK, AN OPENING, A WEAKNESS IN THE CRUST WHERE THAT VIOLENT CHURNING THAT'S GOING ON DOWN EVEN INTO THE CORE, BELOW EVEN THE MANTLE IS CRACKING.

LIKE A VIOLENT PIMPLE --

THEY ARE.

SOME ARE BIG CRACKS, FISSURES.

THEY COME IN ALL DIFFERENT SHAPES.

HOW MANY ACTIVE VOLCANOS EXIST RIGHT NOW?

AND HOW MANY OF THEM ERUPT OR ARE ON THE VERGE OF ERUPTING ON A DAILY BASIS?

WELL, THIS SURPRISED US AND IT'S ONE OF THE REASONS THAT WE DID THIS SHOW.

IT TURNS OUT IT'S AN AVERAGE OF 30 VOLCANOS A DAY EVERY DAY THAT ARE ERUPTING SOMEWHERE ON PLANET EARTH.

THAT'S AMAZING.

I DON'T THINK -- I KNOW WE DIDN'T REALIZE IT AND THAT JUST -- AND PARTICULARLY IN THE WAKE OF THE BIG KILAUEA VOLCANO ERUPTION LAST YEAR IN 2018 IT SEEMED LIKE A GREAT TIME TO TAKE A LOOK AT THAT.

YOU KNOW, UNTIL I SAW THIS DOCUMENTARY WHENEVER I THOUGHT OF VOLCANOS ERUPTING I EQUATED IT WITH, YOU KNOW, A TSUNAMI, EARTHQUAKE.

DEVASTATING, TERRIBLE DESTRUCTION.

AND THEY ARE THAT.

BUT THEY'RE ALSO THE OPPOSITE OF THAT.

EXPLAIN HOW THAT IS.

WELL, VOLCANOS ARE -- CAN ACCOMPANY EARTHQUAKES AND THEY'RE IN THESE PLACE BRS -- PLACES WHERE THE PLATES ARE WEAK, BUT THEY BRING THIS MATERIAL UP FROM THE CENTER OF THE EARTH.

IT'S OFTEN RICH IN MINERALS AND SALTS AND THINGS THAT THEN BECOME EXTREMELY VALUABLE FOR LIFE.

THEY FERTILIZE AREAS FOR HUNDREDS OF MILES AROUND.

AND THAT LAVA -- EACH VOLCANO HAS A DIFFERENT CHEMICAL COMPOSITION, SO THEY'RE KIND OF PROVIDING DIFFERENT NUTRIENTS AND THEY HAVE DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES FOR THE LIFE THAT BECOMES FOSTERED ON THEIR FLANKS.

BUT THEY'RE SOURCES OF RICH MINERALS THAT LIFE NEEDS.

SO THEY HAVE BECOME -- I MEAN, RECENT SCIENCE REALLY SHOWS HOW ESSENTIAL THEY HAVE BEEN.

ONE SCIENTIST SAYS WITHOUT VOLCANOS THERE IS NO LIFE ON EARTH.

IS THAT LIKE THE GENERAL OPINION?

WELL, THAT REALLY COMES DOWN TO THEIR CONTRIBUTION WHICH IS WAY MORE THAN I KNEW TO WATER ON EARTH.

EXPLAIN THAT.

BECAUSE THAT'S KIND OF A RECENT DISCOVERY.

IT IS.

IT WAS TO ME.

AND I THINK THERE HAVE BEEN LOTS OF THEORIES OF HOW WATER CAME TO THE PLANET.

BUT I THINK THE CURRENT THINKING NOW IS THAT WATER IS INHERENT IN THE MAKEUP OF THE -- IT'S BURIED BENEATH THE SURFACE AND IT'S BURIED BENEATH THE CRUST AND HOW IT GOT TO THE SURFACE AS IT CAME UP AS GAS.

IT USED TO BE THOUGHT THAT METEORS -- RIGHT?

YEAH.

COMETS COME IN WITH ICE AND THIS AND THAT.

AND NO, IT SEEMS TO BE AN INHERENT QUALITY TO THE PLANET EARTH.

AMAZING.

NOW THE DOCUMENTARY TRAVELS THE GLOBE AND VISITS THE VOLCANOS AND THE AREAS SURROUNDING THE VOLCANOS AND THEN THIS INCREDIBLE -- THIS INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS EXPEDITION TO THE SOUTH PACIFIC ISLAND WHERE THERE'S A BIG, COMPLEX VOLCANO.

THEY WENT IN TO ONE CRATER, JUST ALMOST TO THE EDGE OF THE LAVA LAKE.

IT'S ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS THINGS I HAVE SEEN ON NATURE FOR SURE.

WHAT WAS SO IMPORTANT ABOUT WHAT THEY WERE TRYING TO FIND THAT WAS WORTH THIS RISK?

WELL, IT'S AN INTERESTING INVESTORTION OF SOMETHING.

THEY'RE LOOKING FOR WHERE LIFE STOPS.

LIFE IS UBIQUITOUS, DEEP INTO THE CRUST.

THEY HAVE DRILLED 7 1/2 MILES DOWN AND STILL FOUND ORGANIC SINGLE CELLED ORGANISMS, DEEP INTO THE CRUST.

SO THE QUESTION IS, THE SCIENTISTS ON THE EXPEDITIONS ARE LOOKING FOR THE MOST EXTREME CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH LIFE CAN EXIST.

ONE OF THE MOST HOSTILE PLACES ON THE PLANET IS THIS CRATER WITH AN UNUSUAL FEATURE OF THIS LAVA LAKE.

SO THEY'RE TRYING TO GET AS CLOSE AS THEY CAN TO THAT.

TO SEE THERE'S LIFE ON THE RIM, COMING DOWN THE SIDE.

BUT WHERE CAN LIFE NO LONGER SURVIVE ON PLANET EARTH?

AND THE REASON IS IT HELPS THEM UNDERSTAND THE ORIGINS OF LIFE HERE ON EARTH AND EQUALLY AS IMPORTANT, IT GIVES THEM CLUES ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF LIVES ELSEWHERE ON OTHER PLANETS.

IT'S AN EXPEDITION TO ANOTHER WORLD AND WHAT ORGANISMS CAN SURVIVE UNDER COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CONDITIONS THAN WE HAVE WITH OUR ATMOSPHERE AND EVERYTHING ELSE THAT PROTECTS LIFE HERE.

WELL, I'M GLAD THAT THE SCIENTISTS SURVIVED.

OH, MY GOSH.

AND I THINK THE VISUALS IN THIS FILM ARE SO SPECTACULAR.

EVERYBODY LOVES TO SEE AN ERUPTING VOLCANO.

I'M SORRY, BUT MAYBE THE PEOPLE RIGHT THERE.

BUT IT'S A SPECTACLE UNLIKE ANYTHING ELSE THAT THE EARTH PRODUCES AND EVEN SEEING THESE FIGURES IN SUCH A LANDSCAPE WORKING AND COMING DOWN WIRES AND CLIMBING UP THE SIDES, YOU JUST FEEL THE POWER OF THE PLANET.

AND VOLCANOS ARE SOMETHING WE'LL NEVER BE ABLE TO CONTROL.

WE HAVE LESS THAN A MINUTE.

I KNOW THIS IS NOT FAIR, BUT WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OTHER VOLCANOS THAT YOU VISITED?

WE GO TO KILAUEA.

WE GO TO ETNA IN EUROPE IN ITALY.

WE GO TO ONE OF THE BIG -- THE VOLCANOS ON THE EAST AFRICAN RIFT.

AND ECUADOR, UP IN THE ANDES.

OUT TO THE GALAPAGOS.

AS ALWAYS, NATURE GOES AROUND THE WORLD AND IT'S BEAUTIFUL.

THERE'S A STORY IN EVERY ONE OF THEM.

IT'S TERRIFIC.

THANKS FOR TALKING ABOUT THE DOCUMENTARY.

THANK YOU.

NATURE, LIVING VOLCANOS, PREMIERS WEDNESDAY AT 8:00 P.M.

YOU CAN VISIT THE WEBSITE.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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