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Images: Into the 'Mouth of Hell'

For 30 years, Ken Sims (center) and his friends John Catto (left) and Dennis Jackson have climbed mountains, frozen waterfalls, and rock walls around the world for sport. In March 2006, with permission from Nicaraguan national park officials, they descended into Masaya Volcano for science. (Photo by Amy E. Nevala, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Each day, 6,000 metric tons (13,230,000 pounds) of gas waft from a conduit 60 feet (20 meters) in diameter in the center of Masaya?s inner crater. To get inside, the climbers hiked and rappeled down the slope shown at the bottom left. (Photo by John Catto, Alpenglow Pictures)

Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink, a geochemist at WHOI, cuts paper filters to begin anaylses of WHOI geologist Ken Sims' samples gathered from Masaya. Peucker-Enhrenbrink, Sims (center), and laboratory assistant Tracy Atwood, wear protective clothing, masks, and gloves to prevent contamination of the samples. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)