Risking It All to Capture One of World's Fiercest Volcanoes

Part 1: This trio of volcano hunters, including an 11-year-old girl, travel the Ring of Fire to shoot active volcanoes.
9:34 | 12/25/14

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Transcript for Risking It All to Capture One of World's Fiercest Volcanoes
If you're lucky enough to be curled up by a fireplace this Christmas eve, you might wonder why anyone in his or her right mind would visit an active volcano. Tonight, we're taking you on a journey to one of the deadliest volcanoes on the planet. And extraordinary quest. ABC's Gloria Riviera experiencing the death-defying drama, along with one unlikely and very brave adventurer. Reporter: The sheer force of it is like nothing else on the planet. When you're this close, you not only hear that boom, but you feel it. What you see is stop in your tracks stunning. We're inside the ring of fire. The most explosive terrain on Earth. Bearing witness to one of nature's most violent and unpredictable forces. And at the center of it all, 11-year-old Molly ambrose. The world's youngest volcano hunter. Came a long way. And the only way to G in here -- Reporter: She's traveled Indonesia with her father brad, who makes a living filming rare images of nature's most explosive threat. Everything with a volcano is different. They have different personalities. Reporter: Right now, they have venturing to one of the angriest. To capture the ultimate shot of this violent volcano, located on an uninhabited, inhospitable Isla island. What are the changers on a volcano? Lots of things could go wrong. When the lava comes out of the crater, it could hit you and you could get burned or a rock can hit you in the head. This is a dangerous play. Reporter: Leading this odyssey, brad's boss, Jeff Mackley. A legend in the business. At the moment, I'm about as close as you can get to the volcano. Reporter: And a lifelong adrenaline junky. When you find something you like, you do it again and again though it may cause you harm, I think is how you describe that. Five meters. Reporter: Together, these new Zealand ers have been to hell and back. Oh, my god. Oh -- Reporter: Cashing in big with breathtaking footage like this. Just feet from a chaotic caldron of bubbling lava. What does it look like? Looks like the surface of the sun. It looks like all of my wildest dreams. Reporter: Its pictures like these that have made them famous. But new adventures beckon. The more remote and difficult the journey, the greater the prize. And we want in. So, we ask them to be our guides. But can they really pull it off with a child in tow? Every time you go out there and you get on a volcano, what are you hoping for? I'm hoping to come back alive. Reporter: So am I, because this journey will be treacherous. Indonesia is home to a record 147 active volcanoes. And on our way, we pass through this hellscape. A volcanic sulfur mine engulfed with toxic gas. A large enough eruption could unleash a giant acid lake on everyone below. Water so toxic, it dissolves metal. It is risky, evenadults who work here and certainly not I deal for an 11-year-old. What do you think of this place? It's cool. Really cool. Reporter: This is an inherently dangerous and unpredictable place. Does Molly have any place being there? I think so. She's getting world experience that she's not going to get anywhere else. There's only so much you can learn from looking at a TV screen or experiencing on a computer. Reporter: Brad, a divorced dad, is almost always on the road. And if Molly didn't come along, he says he'd barely see her at all. Because I actually live four, five hours away from her, I want the time that we have together to be special. Reporter: This volcanic mine is a first for Molly, but Jeff's been here before. It's been ten years since I was last year and things have changed an awful lot. Now the tourists outnumber the miners, probably 100 to 1. Reporter: Volcano tourism is the latest trend in adventure travel. And that's a problem for Jeff, but no client is willing to pay top dollar for pictures anyone can get. To stay at the top of his game, he has to up the ante. How far are you willing to go to get those shots? To the ends of the Earth. Reporter: And that's exactly where we're headed. It's one of the most active volcanoes on Earth at the moment. But a place most people have never heard of. Reporter: Let alone seen. We take two planes. A long drive. And hook up with a local guide who helps us hitch a ride on a tuna fishing boat for the final leg. The only way to get out to this volcano is to take one of these boats six hours, at least, I'm told it's going to be pretty bumpy. Disappear for a couple of days and go fishing. And hopefully they come back. Reporter: This is the flores sea, and we are surrounded by volcanoes, stretching 25,000 miles around the pacific. This ring of fire is home to 90% of the world's earthquakes, and by far, most volcanic eruptions. You have tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes. The ring of fire is the most volatile place on Earth? Well, I wouldn't call it volatile. I'd call it necessary. If you didn't have that stuff going on, the Earth would be tearing itself apart. When you go to these places, if you got something, you don't have it. If you need a hospital, there isn't one. If something goes wrong, you're screwed. Reporter: Our local guide says fewer than 50 westerners have ever braved the journey. Certainly none as young as Molly. Maybe she should move with daddy. Reporter: The trip is brutal. Six grueling hours on a dodgy boat speeding into oblivion. Only Molly keeps smiling. The rest of us, queasy. It's erupting right now. Reporter: Oh, my god. That's huge. It's almost like on cue, just as we started to get close, it erupted. Almost as a welcome, or maybe a warning. One by one, we load up. High five, we made it. Even this strange passenger. Our guides insist we bring him along as a sacrifice to the spirit of the volcano. An idea Molly hates. Hello, we just made it. We're now on sacred ground. Low cams have always steered clear for fear of upsetting the mountain. That's it. We're alone. We're alone out here. When night falls, we get to work. And with only 48 hours on this island, every second counts. What do you have to do to get the shot? Well, pretty much have to stay awake with a camera aimed at the action for as long as it takes to get the action. You don't know when that's going to come. Or if you're going to run out of batteries. The largest eruption we've had so far happened, so, now I'm going to go and see how big it really was. Reporter: The guys are able to film a few decent eruptions, but not the shot they're after. We have no way to predict just how violent each eruption will be. So, what is the safety plan there? There isn't one. Reporter: There isn't one. Sort of luck plan. You're on an active volcano. The safest thing to do would be not to be there at all. Reporter: It's not just the lava that worries me. The terrain is unforgiving. The elements extreme. And when brad and Jeff are distracted, Molly falls on jagged rocks, injuring her elbow. Molly was behind us while we were talking and she slipped on a rock. It only halls, what, 20 centimeters behind me. Yeah. She needed dad, and there was an oh -- moment. Oh, god, this is the first night. Reporter: The night gets worse. We've had a major rainstorm at night. We've had a few really big explosions. But the rain is really causing huge problems right now. Tent is basically collapsing. At the same time, we realized that the sea has started to invade our camp to the point that the waves are crashing so close, coming in and hurting us. It was kind of like hell. Reporter: We're trapped between an erupting volcano and swelling seas. At this rate, I'm not even sure how we'll get off this island. Coming up, we face the full wra wrath. Fact.

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