A Hawaii resident’s GoPro Hero 4 camera survived being hit by lava from Kilauea Volcano in Kalapana on August 10, 2016.
Erik Storm, who operates Kilauea EcoGuides tours, told Storyful:
“This is an interesting story as to why this is just getting attention now. My GoPro Hero 4 was hit by the lava on accident in August of 2016. Recently I took professional photographer Erez Marom out to the active lava flows, and he brought his drone, DJI Phantom 4 pro. We were outside of the National Park boundary (drones illegal in all national parks) on private land that we have legal access to. He flew his Phantom too close to the lava, and it melted the lens on his camera. We got to talking about the GoPro back in August 2016, and he wanted to feature it. This video and story are now going viral around the world.
“GoPro has reached out to me in regard to this video. We work with a lot of professional photographers, and they are all amazed when they hear the story and see the footage and photos. And yes, the camera really did work afterward; remember it had the waterproof housing on it. From a scientific perspective, it most likely survived due to the Leidenfrost Effect. I thought the camera was for sure done when it was engulfed in the lava. I had a geologist rock hammer with me and that is how I was able to get it out of the now cooling rock. When I got home I hammered all the hardened rock off of the camera and was amazed to see the blue wi-fi light still blinking! The camera would turn on but the lens was slightly melted making it not really usable anymore. The SD card popped right out and the footage was intact! At the end of the video you can see me with the rock hammer, and then one of my guests on the private lava hike that day comes over to take a photo with his iPhone.
“The viral nature of this story has brought many doubters and non-believers. I have been accused of doing this intentionally which is definitely not the case. The recent story about Erez’s drone brought this story back to the surface. It was an honest accident that produced an amazing story. I love GoPros and have been using them since the first version to record and document lava flows here in Hawaii. I was telling a story about the Polynesian goddess Pele to my guests when my GoPro was hit by the lava. It is VERY important to note that flowing lava in Hawaii is extremely sacred and should be respected as such. No one should ever poke the lava with anything, cook with the lava, or throw anything into or in front of the flowing lava to ‘see what happens.’ I respect the place where I work to the fullest and work hard to make sure people understand that this is a very sacred place that commands respect.” Credit: Kilauea EcoGuide via Storyful