Planet of fire

270x150mm, digital, 2011

The explosive power of an active volcano is a sight which always provokes a feeling of wariness even at a distance, and undoubted fear from close up.  The conical mountain of ash and lava, covered by dykes leading down from the crater from which lava flows, represents a source of destruction which we all recognise.  And when the eruption takes place, we can never be sure just how far its reach will extend.

There is evidence that most planets will go through volcanic phases during their development, and this world shows signs that it has been through a period of intense activity which has already shaped the landscape.  Mountains in the distance may be extinct volcanoes themselves, and the channel immediately in front of us suggests that it has been subject to many lava flows before.

Searing heat and ash-covered skies indicate that this is no place for life, but even the most intolerable conditions may fade with time and life could evolve.  Given long enough, such a planet may witness climatic change on a global scale and even become a planet of ice.

Text: Richard Hayes