Love and volcanoes of the Kraft spouses (6 photos + 1 video)

7 January 2024

Love is a rather fleeting feeling. But if a couple is united by common hobbies, then it will definitely be strong.

A good example is Maurice Paul and Katya Kraft. They met while they were students at the University of Strasbourg. Although the young people had different specialties (the guy studied geology, the girl planned to become a geochemist), they were united by their passion for volcanoes. Which, as Maurice said, were beyond the comprehension of mankind.

A couple of years later, they began research, choosing Iceland as their first real work site. The couple actively studied tectonic plates and their movement, trying to understand the nature of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

French volcanologists have recorded one and a half hundred eruptions, many of which could have resulted in the death of researchers. For the sake of science, the husband and wife were ready to take risks. And they not only received a huge amount of photo and video material, but also helped humanity better understand the nature of volcanoes.

The 1985 eruption of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia was one of the most famous and saddest volcano-related tragedies. The city of Armero was wiped off the face of the earth, buried under a layer of soil, mud, and rock fragments. In total, about 23 thousand people became victims of the disaster.

Maurice Paul and his wife tried to warn the authorities about the eruption. But they remained unheard. The couple considered the incident a personal tragedy and suffered greatly from the realization that the consequences could have been prevented. Therefore, the Crafts decided to show the world real evidence so as not to be unfounded in their predictions. To do this, they had to approach the epicenter itself.

This opportunity presented itself in 1991. Accompanied by a young colleague, Harry Glicken, and the Japanese press, the scientists climbed the slope of the Unzen volcano near the city of Shimabara, where they planned to film small pyroclastic flows emerging from the lava dome at the summit.

During the ascent, an eruption began. Boiling lava rushed down, forming clouds with high temperatures. On that day, 41 people died - volcanologists, journalists, technical personnel providing support. The bodies of the researchers were found nearby. At the time of death, Katya was 49 and Maurice was 45 years old.

The day before his death, Maurice said: “I am never afraid, because in 23 years I have seen so many eruptions that even if I die tomorrow, I don’t care.”

A colleague of scientists, Rosalie Lopez, said after the tragedy that the Crafts knew that they would die. And they consciously took risks. The colossal heritage in the form of photographs, videos and books is used by volcanologists to this day.

In 2022, a documentary film was shot with the telling title “Volcano of Love” about the love, sacrifice and death of the pioneers who tried to reach the world and literally gave their lives for the sake of science and the lives of others.

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