Veteran photographer and National Geographic grantee Carsten Peter is also an accomplished climber, diver and caver who has photographed some of the world’s most extreme environments. Here he shares stories and images from a mammoth cave system in Vietnam that may be the world’s largest.
Carsten Peter, a World Press Photo award winner and regular contributor to National Geographic magazine, specializes in going to extremes: scuba diving in a glacier on Mont Blanc, crossing the Sahara on a camel, caving in Borneo. He is always living on the edge with his camera, searching for where nature is still pure and where his survival will depend on his wits and his skills as a technical climber, paraglider, caver, diver, and canyoneer.
He is enthusiastically obsessed with devising innovative photographic techniques to capture never-before-seen images from some of the scariest environments on the planet. His many adventures include braving toxic caverns and acid waterfalls to shoot within the deepest ice shafts on earth, rappelling into active volcanoes with turbulent lava lakes and superheated thermal caves, and breaking altitude records while flying his motorized paraglider.
In addition to his World Press award -- for his coverage of tornadoes while stormchasing in the American West -- he has received an Emmy Award for his videography from inside an active volcano in the South Pacific.
Naturally formed underground cavity. A cave often consists of a number of underground chambers, constituting a series of caverns. An assemblage of such caverns interconnected by smaller passageways makes up a cave system. Primary caves, such as lava tubes and coral caves, develop during the time when the host matrix is solidifying or being deposited. Secondary caves, such as marine grottoes, originate after the host matrix has been deposited or consolidated. Most caves are of the latter type, including solution caves formed by the chemical dissolution of a soluble host rock that has been weakened by fracturing and mechanical erosion; Mammoth Cave and Carlsbad Caverns are examples of solution caves.
Country, Southeast Asia. Area: 127,882 sq mi (331,212 sq km). Population (2009 est.): 88,577,000. Capital: Hanoi. The great majority of the population is Vietnamese; minorities include Chinese, Hmong, Thai, Khmer, and Cham. Languages: Vietnamese (official), French, Chinese, English, Khmer. Religions: Buddhism, new religions, traditional beliefs, Christianity. Currency: dong. Vietnam is about 1,025 mi (1,650 km) long, 210340 mi (340550 km) wide at its widest parts, and 30 mi (50 km) wide at its narrowest part. Northern Vietnam is mountainous; Fan Si Peak, the country's highest mountain, rises to 10,312 ft (3,143 m). The Red River is the principal river. Southern Vietnam is dominated by the Mekong River delta. A long, relatively narrow coastal plain connects the two major river deltas. The densely forested Annamese Cordillera extends through west-central Vietnam. Northern Vietnam is rich in mineral resources, especially anthracite coal and phosphates. Some petroleum deposits exist off the southern coast. Significant food crops include rice, sugarcane, coffee, tea, and bananas. Food processing and fishing are important industries, as are the manufacture of steel and phosphates. Vietnam is a socialist republic with one legislative house; its head of state is the president, and its head of government is the prime minister.