The three explorers met at the National Geographic Society.

They did not know each other. Yet, they became perfect partners.

Stephanie Grocke 


Gabby Salazar


Ross Donihue


Stephanie Grocke is a volcanologist. Gabby Salazar is a photographer. Ross Donihue is a  cartographer.

Grocke wanted to tell the story of a volcano. She had been studying it. It was in Guatemala. She thought Salazar and Donihue could help. They thought so, too.

An Explosive Start

In 1902, the Santa María volcano erupted. It made a huge crater, or hole. It left behind a lot of ash and rock. Later, melted rock slowly leaked out at the volcano’s base. The melted rock made four lava domes.

Melted rock underground is called magma. Lava domes are made from magma. It erupts fromvent, or opening. The melted rock pours onto Earth’s surface. Now it is called lava. The lava piles up. It makes a dome. Santa María has four lava domes.

Ash from an eruption rises above the clouds.

A Place to Study

There have been many eruptions at Santa María. People who live nearby are used to it. To Grocke, this seemed like a good place to study lava domes.

She wanted to take pictures of the domes over time. That way, she could see changes taking place. She knew Salazar could help take the pictures.

Donihue would make a map and diagrams. He would take pictures from the air using a drone, too.

Santa María

El Caliente

La Mitad

El Monje

El Brujo

There are four lava domes at the base of the Santa Maria volcano.