Placed in a crevice at Hawaii's Volcanoes National Park, the camera recorded a lava flow drawing near, nearer, and then too near. In the video, sudden flames spout at the bottom of the screen before obstructing the view as the GoPro Hero4 is swallowed. A year after the video was posted to YouTube—and more recently popularized after a drone camera met a similar fate—National Geographic explains what happened: While leading visitors on a tour of the park in August 2016, Kilauea EcoGuides owner Erik Storm put his camera down to record a fast-moving lava flow. That became a "$400 mistake" as, distracted, he told his charges about the Polynesian fire goddess Pele and was too late to pull his camera out of harm's—or Pele's—way.
By the time he returned to the camera, Storm says the lava that had engulfed it had started to cool and harden, so he used a rock hammer to retrieve it. As the camera is pulled out of the lava, the video shows a screen turning from deep red to a cool blue hue. A man is then seen looking down at the camera. "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!" Storm writes on Storyful. And though the camera lens was melted—no surprise given that lava can reach up to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit in Hawaii, per Live Science—"the footage was intact," Storm says. The Toronto Star notes you can safely experience a model lava flow at Iceland's Lava Center. (Read more lava stories.)