Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 6

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 6

…You must be from China sister. That is clear down by the lake….

Once the Constance and Fanny retrieves their suitcases, they now must find their way to the University of Chicago. At least when traveling by train, the paths leading away from downtown Union Station are much easier to follow.

“I can see the skyscrapers from here, but this airport is out in the boonies,” laments the frustrated 3rd grade teacher.

As if on cue, a boxy yellow car pulls up alongside them.

“Where are you headed ladies?” yells the bold driver of a Checker automobile painted in striking yellow with a Taxi light affixed to the roof. “It’s mighty cold out and ain’t nowhere I can’t take you.”

“That’s a triple negative,” the librarian mentions.

Shush,” Constance pokes.

“We’re looking for the University of Chicago,” Fanny blurts “Is it nearby?”

You must be from China sister. That is clear down by the lake.

“We saw a thousand lakes on the way here, which one is it near?”

“Are you for real? Michigan, come-on, that big one over that way!” Eddie points.

“My friend was merely kidding sir; we know where the university is located. We just need a reliable way to get there.”

6137 South Kimbark

“My name is Eddie, not sir and Avondale Avenue will take us to Lakeshore Drive, bing-bam-boom.” Eddie Dombroski has been a cabby since his discharge from the Army at the end of the Second World War. “That’s unless the wind drifted that snow we got last night, then we could cut down State Street to 55th.”

“Splendid! 6137 Kimbark and don’t spare the horses.”

“Horses?”

“That is just a saying Eddie,” explains Constance. “Just get us there quickly.”

“I don’t speed on slick roads are Missy, but I do know all the shortcuts.”

“We have the utmost confidence in your driving.” They have no other alternatives, but just in case, that yellow taxi is built like a Sherman Tank.

“Let me introduce us: my name is Carolyn and this is Sara.” She points to Fanny, fending off an approaching elbow with a timely wink. “We are visiting a high school friend who has made it to the big time.”

“You mean like Benny Goodman, or maybe that Rita Hayworth? She ain’t got nothing on you, if I must say so myself.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 8

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 5

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 5

…“Chicago sure looks different from the air,” comments Constance in a moment  of rare wonderment…

1950 Chicago

The large two-propeller airplane from Florida approaches Chicago from the southeast and the terrain of some 15,000 feet below is changing radically as it descends; from the hills of Tennessee and Kentucky, the Ohio River Valley to the sprawling farm fields of the Midwestern Plain.

And then out of nowhere sprouts a cluster of buildings; one taller than the next, looking like they are daring the Great Lake called Michigan to wash them away.

“Chicago sure looks different from the air,” comments Constance in a moment of rare wonderment. She is well-traveled, some would say worldly, but she is accustomed to the perspective provided by a plodding train car or the rolling deck of a steamship.

“This is the view God has.” From Fanny’s perspective, that is exactly how she sees it.

Flight 12 from Tallahassee lands at Chicago Orchard, even though commercial air travel to and from Chicago is just revving up. The airfield had its beginnings as a Douglas Aircraft assembly plant, with close ties to the war effort. Just as World War II pulled up the United States by its bootstraps, out of the depths of the Great Depression, so did war-related industries create new venues for a growing nation.

Once the passengers walk down the stairs of the Pan American airplane, they are escorted to a newly built circular structure resembling giant spider; separate “legs” meant to serve the individual companies using the airport. Most of current air traffic moves cargo across the country, so the freight terminal, at the far end of the field, is actually busier.

After retrieving their suitcases, they now must find their way to the University of Chicago. At least when traveling by train, the paths leading away from downtown Union Station are much easier to follow.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 7

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 4

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 4

…Let’s get our winter clothes packed and hit the road…

 Fanny points out that A-Bomb was tested out in the American Southwest..

img004

Fanny Renwick

“Yes,” deep breath, “but the spy was traced back to the Manhattan Project at Argonne National Laboratory, which is out west of Chicago.”

Fallow Deer of Argonne

“I didn’t know where we were. It looked like out by Campbell Lake, all the trees and country roads and such, though I did get some great pictures of those Fallow Deer.” Fanny was fascinated with animals, like these white deer, even took color pictures of something white.

“We were tailing a suspected double agent, that German spy in Ally clothing, on his way out to his drop area, not sightseeing for local animals.”

Constance fully expects to bring things into focus most times for Fanny, who disarms people in ways that her boss cannot. That occasional blank stare takes the attention away from Connie’s intense presence.

“You make sure Betty (the upstairs neighbor) looks after Molly. And tell her it may be a while this time. Let’s get our winter clothes packed and hit the road!

         A Christmas adventure is calling.

Having had a clarifying conversation with their prospective client Mr. Kamen, there is no doubt as to CCI’s involvement in the case of the missing the missing scientist, Mr. Willard Libby. There seems to be some problem getting unbiased P.I.’s in that city of Al Capone.

Constance and Fanny wait to board a Pan American DC-3, Flight 12 non-stop from Tallahassee Commercial Airport, a one runway operation, to the newly named Chicago Orchard [Douglas] Airport. Their fellow fliers, gathered in nice straight line, are an interesting mix of snow birds (an new trend for those who are originally from the north, but live in the south during the winter months) and holiday travelers (who want to experience the fairy-tale world of Christmas at Marshall Fields department store, on the famed Michigan Avenue of Chicago).

Not that any one would recognize either one of the women. Constance has her hair in a bun, dressed in a lace-collared blouse and calf-length shirt, looking every bit the 3rd grade school teacher. Fanny is wearing black rimmed glasses, like she would be helping you find a library book. Perfect disguises, “Two frumps on a log,” is how Connie put it.

They will need to blend into the college scene they are about to enter. If biochemist Martin Kamen is being watched by anyone, the two Floridian women cannot stand out any more than they already do; at 5’8 apiece, Constance and Fanny loom over most their gender brethren.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 6

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 3

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 3

…Private investigation pays no mind to holidays, sleep or any other aspect normal life…

Fanny Renwick, walking tall and proud after being out for the morning, returns with her not-so-subtle Polaroid & its “electric eye” hanging from her neck and 5 crisp $100 bills (+ a $5 for interest) in her hot little hands.

“Our mister Simms saw me taking pictures and accused me of working for his ex-wife. Boy he sure is paranoid, perhaps a tinge of guilt no doubt about his overdue bill?  He couldn’t reach for his wallet fast enough and you should have seen the moths fly out!” As a rule, Fanny personifies unfettered child-like joy.

“But I told him I would have him castrated if he didn’t give us the money,” Unfettered joy meets Constance’s unforgiving reality.

“Ouch Connie, that’s hitting below the belt.”

“We have the dough, don’t we Fanny?” She often brings her friend down hard, just to balance out the woman’s default sweetness.

“While you were out, we got a telegram from Chicago, must have cost a small fortune, reads like a book… Somewhat cryptic, I must say. This guy wants us to come and look for a missing scientist.” The glazed strawberry blonde Caraway whisks her long hair back away from her face. “Here, what do you make of this.”

Dear Fanny, no really, dear Fanny looks at the half-crumpled paper, struggling to read the choppy text. “What is a.s.a.p.”

“Always say a prayer.” Not true. “That is short for RIGHT Damn NOW!”

“But it’s Christmas Eve Connie! Do we have to work?” Private investigation pays no mind to holidays, sleep or any other aspect normal life. “And that’s an awful long drive and the car is at Sam’s Garage.”

“We’ll fly to Chicago… they have Christmas too you know and maybe even real snow!”

“Oh snow, swell.” Fanny loves it. “Hey, isn’t Manhattan in New York, not Illinois?” Fanny points out upon reading the word ‘MANHATTAN in the wire from Chicago’.

“The atomic bombs that took out Japan, ending that stupid war, were developed by scientists working for the government; top secret stuff.” She proceeds to connect a few dots. “Manhattan Project, project, get it? Remember that spy case we were working at the end of the war?”

The light bulb goes on above Fanny’s scattered little brain, but still cannot connect the dots. “That was in New Mexico though,” she points out.

“Yes,” deep breath, “but the spy was traced back to the Manhattan Project at Argonne National Laboratory, which is out west of Chicago.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 5

Computer Generated Imagery… Not!

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Practical Effects

You Thought Were

Computer Generated

One of the most important aspects of the film-making is keeping the audience immersed in the world it’s being shown. Whether the characters are in a fantasy world or jumping out of a moving car, the audiences’ willingness to go along with the story is, in large part, due to the viewer’s willingness to suspend disbelief. The goal of a filmmaker is to keep the audience so entranced that it’s only afterward that they begin to question or wonder how some of the amazing feats were accomplished.

And because of the advancements in CGI, many audience members simply write off the incredible as ordinary. Many believe that the stunts are simply CGI when, in fact, some of the most powerful scenes in recent memory have been real, practical, extremely dangerous stunts.

10. The Dark Knight

Christopher Nolan is something of a realist. One of the best directors of his generation, he has resisted the switch to digital and has continued to shoot on film; it’s not surprising, then, that he’d do everything in his power to make CGI as limited as possible in his blockbuster works. A daring filmmaker who continues to tell stories in a unique narrative style and voice, Nolan was at the helm of the revitalization of the Batman franchise. In one of the most iconic scenes from The Dark Knight, Batman attempts to save Harvey Dent from the Joker, who is determined to blow up a police escort. In the well-known tunnel sequence, the Batmobile rams into a garbage truck. The scene left many scratching their heads, marveling about the realism of CGI. The truth is that it was real. Every bit.

Nolan and his team constructed a one-third scale model of the Batmobile, as well as the truck and that particularly part of Chicago’s lower Wacker Drive. Nolan’s stunt team placed both models on a guide and smashed them into each other to create the scene. The same strategy was used for the semi-trailer truck that flips on its head. All in all, the plan was executed brilliantly and viewer is left marveling at the world they created.

9. The Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan was at it again in the final installment of his Batman trilogy. According to Nolan, one of his proudest moments was executing the opening scene, where Bane escapes from the CIA plane, mid-flight. It’s an exhilarating sequence, that – again – did not use CGI. The scene was filmed in Scotland, over the Cairngorm Mountains of the Scottish Highlands. It’s the highest mountain range in the UK and is described as incredibly cold, with incessant winds and an unforgiving climate. The CIA plane used in the film was a Lockheed C-130 Hercules, commissioned by the US military. It was a perfect fit for the stunt with a stall speed as low as 111 miles per hour. Nolan and his camera crew were able to follow the plane in a helicopter, recording the exterior action. The particulars are so difficult to describe in detail that when Nolan was asked about the stunt, he said “It was sort of an incredible coming together of lots and lots of planning by a lot of members of the team who worked for months rehearsing all these parachute jumps.”

The action inside the plane was much more straightforward. It was accomplished by building a simulator, where Nolan could rotate, shake and twist the fuselage, making the actors almost weightless inside the device. Put together, Nolan was able to add another jaw-dropping scene to his filmography.

8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

One of the most highly anticipated films in recent memory, Star Wars: The Force Awakens made sure to capitalize off the hype, introducing several real props, creatures, and locations. Probably the most notable prop was the droid BB-8. JJ Abrams and crew made sure they had a BB-8 for whatever sequence they were filming. They constructed a BB-8 that could show emotion when held be actors, a BB-8 that could be thrown around and stay upright, a BB-8 controlled by rod puppeteers, and even a fully functioning droid that could roll around like a possessed bowling ball.

Abrams and crew didn’t phone it in with CGI when they really probably could have, either. Don’t get us wrong; there’s obviously a ton of CGI in a movie featuring literal spaceship battles. But even small effects like Rey’s food materializing was real. A sequence that was on screen for seconds took more than 3 months to develop and execute. And while it may not seem worth it, the smallest things can take a viewer out of a world, and The Force Awakens did a great job of refusing to allow the audience to easily fall astray.

7. Apollo 13

One of the best films depicting NASA astronauts is Ron Howard’s Apollo 13. Starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton, the film depicts the aborted 1970 lunar mission, which became a mission of survival. Instead of using CGI, Howard wanted to create an atmosphere or experience that allowed viewers to truly appreciate the fear and unease that the astronauts experienced. Howard utilized NASA’s “Vomit Comet” KC-135 airplane, designed for one purpose: creating a zero-G environment on Earth.

In order to accomplish such a feat, the KC-135 does a series of parabolic arcs at very fast speeds; this results in a window of weightlessness for the passengers. According to reports, it took more than 600 arcs for Howard to get the take he liked. It’s now clear that he knew what he was doing: the movie was nominated for 9 Academy Awards and grossed more than $355 million worldwide.

6. Skyfall

Good filmmakers certainly know how to catch an audience’s attention. The opening scene from Skyfall is no different. Every kick and punch thrown in the scene is actually performed by Daniel Craig and his counterpart on top of a speeding train. The only thing keeping them from falling is a wire that’s as thin as one’s finger. Bond films are notorious for real stunts that push the boundaries.

In Spectre, the follow-up installment in the Bond franchise, filmmakers set a Guinness record for stunts in a single production. So next time you’re watching a Bond film, make sure you take a second to appreciate the risks that some of these men and women are taking for our entertainment.

5. Mad Max: Fury Road

This is one of the most unique examples on our list because of its utilization of both CGI and real stunts to make compelling scenes. In that iconic scene where Tom Hardy is dangling perilously close to the ground, that’s completely real. All that was keeping Hardy from being roadkill was a thin cable. The sequence in question was also filmed while Hardy’s son was on set, too. Director George Miller, when asked what would happen if the cable snapped, remarked, “He’d probably go under the wheels.” Good one, George. Miller is known for pushing the limits of ordinary film practices. He hired “Cirque du Soleil performers to rock around on Chinese acrobat poles while a camera rig weaved through them at up to 100 mph.”

If that wasn’t enough, the film’s production also saw the invention of a new way to flip a car: a “nitrogen-powered metallic blade” was designed to pop down on the car, forcing it to make those ridiculous flips in the movie. Not bad for the director of Happy Feet and Babe: Pig in the City. That’ll do, George. That’ll do.

4. Mission: Impossible (Pretty Much the Whole Film Franchise)

Tom Cruise is notorious for doing most of his own stunts in his films. Shooting the upcoming installment in the Mission: Impossible series, Cruise even broke his ankle trying to jump to an adjacent rooftop. This wasn’t the first time Cruise has put himself into harm’s way. In the original, he dangled from a ceiling; in the sequel he hung off the side of a cliff. In Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, he scaled the side of Burj Khalifa. And in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, he clung to a side of a flying plane.

Each of these stunts was performed by Cruise, without the use of stuntmen. Talk about courage (or lunacy… or maybe a little bit of both). In Rogue Nation, Cruise only had wires attached to his body as he gripped the side of a flying plane. We suppose that’s why they pay him the big bucks.

3. The Amazing Spider-Man

One of the unique bits of the Spider-Man reboot was director Marc Webb’s decision to make the web-slinging aspects of the film real. In past Spider-Man movies, the web-slinging was mostly all CGI and it became apparent in scenes that took many viewers out of the movie. Instead, The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel relied mostly on stuntmen and Andrew Garfield himself, who was willing to participate in the action. Stunt coordinator Andy Armstrong described in an interview the difficult process of executing such a stunt. Through his research, he found that the difficulty in the execution was based, in part, on the past versions of Spider-Man depicting his downward swing as the same as his upward motion.

Armstrong and his team constructed “a track being pulled by a high-speed winch to help emulate Spidey’s web-swinging ways.” He’d go on to describe it as cracking a whip. A stuntman would “drop into the bottom of the pendulum, and as he reached the bottom of his arc, someone driving the winch would pull a dolly along to the next spot.” With a little digital effects to boot, The Amazing Spider-Man films created a whole new way of looking at one of our favorite superheroes.

2. The Matrix Reloaded

Don’t jump down our throats. We know The Matrix Reloaded relied on a heavy amount of CGI. However, it’d surprise most readers to know how many of the action sequences actually relied upon real stunts. One of the most memorable sequences in the entire trilogy, the Agents chasing Morpheus and Trinity on the highway, was no exception.

Although the Agent seen jumping from the hood of a vehicle was added later in post production, the chain reaction of car crashes and the actual implosion of the car was real. The Wachowskis managed to oversee the use of special rigs, cannons, and ramps to create the massively destructive sequence. The filmmakers choice to use real stunts and props is one of the major reasons The Matrix series has, for the most part, continued to stand the test of time.

1. Inception

Hey, we couldn’t end our list without another Christopher Nolan movie. The uncompromising auteur has managed to consistently create stunning visual sequences without relying on CGI. Probably the most memorable scene in Inception was Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page’s characters conversation at a coffee shop in Paris. Suddenly, an explosion sends debris, and broken glass into the air. All the while, DiCaprio and Page remain in the center of the storm.

The sequence was executed by production designer Chris Corbould, shooting a series of air cannons while director of photography Wally Pfister shot at 1,500 frames per second. It made for one of the most memorable parts of the movie, introducing the audience to the idea of Inception. Not to be outdone, later in the film there’s a fight scene featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a hotel room and hallway, in which the room continues to rotate, allowing the combatants to run up the walls and on the ceiling. As you’ve no doubt guessed by now, particularly if you watched the video up above, that was all done entirely with practical sets and stunts.


Computer Generated Imagery… Not! –

WIF Gadgets

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 2

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Constance Caraway P.I.  Episode 2

…We are research scientists with previous ties to the MANHATTAN PROJECT and I suspect some sort of foul play…

“Thank you Miss Connie!”

Jimmy K. calls her by the shorter version of her name, the name she blames her mother for. It is told that Mom had morning sickness for much of the eight months she carried her baby; constantly ill, hence Constance. Mrs. Caraway insists that she is named after a great-aunt from her father’s side. A side trip to the National Archives, while doing some research on another case in Washington D.C., helped Constance disprove that bogus tale. Do not try to sneak something past her; you can’t hide from the prying eyes of a P.I.

Need Truth – Will Find is the tag line below the letters Constance Caraway Private Investigation painted on the opaque mottled glass on the massive front door; motto and credo.

She closes that door which seems to creak more and more these days. Behind the door she opens the telegram as if it were a gift from the coming Christmas morn… RriiippP!

W E S T E R N  UNION

NEWCOME CARLYON – PRESIDENT  J.C. WILLEVER – FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT

RECEIVED AT MAIN OFFICE 221-23 MONROE STREET- ALWAYS OPEN

To: CONSTANCE CARAWAY INVESTIGATION       TALLAHASSEE FLORIDA

24 December 1950

MESSAGE:

I am contacting you because of your previous work at Argonne National Laboratory DuPage County Illinois.

I cannot go into to great detail at this time. I believe that a colleague of mine at the UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO is in grave danger, as I have not heard from him several days.

We are research scientists with previous ties to the MANHATTAN PROJECT and I suspect some sort of foul play.

Please meet me at 6137 South Kimbark near the university campus a.s.a.p. Please call me at UOC-495-2101 between 12 PM and 4 PM to confirm.

MARTIN DAVID KAMEN

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

Just as she re-reads the tantalizing-ly titillating telegram for the 10th time, her roomy Fanny Renwick, after being out for the morning, walking tall and proud after being out for the morning returns with her not-so-subtle Polaroid & its “electric eye” hanging from her neck and 5 crisp $100 bills (+ a fiver for interest) in her hot little hands.


Forever Mastadon ~ 

Episode 2


page 4

“DANGER!” Traveler – WIF Around the World

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Natural Hazards

of Planet Earth

The Earth is not always your friend, and the planet upon which we developed may not treat us gently despite the effort with which we have colonized so much of its surface. In this account, we move beyond familiar floods, tornadoes and earthquakes to discover the really weird ways that an active and sometimes badly behaved planet can create a real but strange threat to your safety. Learn, and be safe; looking out not only for wild animals, but approaching the planet itself with care as you walk its surface.

10. Tree Wells

 

The Earth is defined by interactions between the rocks, the atmosphere and water. And when that interaction involves the accumulation of frozen water in the form of snow in places where there are trees, an extraordinary level of danger may form. It is not only a crevice that may threaten skiers. A much more common and sometimes worse danger comes from tree wells. Tree wells are an ever-present risk on mountainsides that suffocate many unwary snow sports enthusiasts when they fall into a gaping hole in the snow where a tree stands, concealing the snowy well around its trunk.

When a large conifer tree stands on a mountain, snowfall may pile up to a depth of many feet. Yet around the tree trunk and within the curtilage of the tree’s branches, snow is likely to be missing. The result is the presence of a diabolically well concealed hole or “well” around the tree. Upon beginning to pass a tree at too close a range, a skier or snowboarder may pitch forward into a tree well and be stuck, often headfirst. As a result, suffocation may occur from the fine snow material while limbs may be trapped in the snow. Giving trees a wide berth is the best defense against the actual issue of falling in, while skiing with a partner affords a far greater chance of being seen and rescued.

9. Gas Lake

We all know the danger of drowning in a lake, but surprisingly, the most dangerous lakes in the world are not those in which one could drown, but rather, create the effect of oxygen deprivation while the victims are still on land. When seismic activity, organic decomposition and toxic gas combine together in the gas lake phenomenon, the results are both horrifically eerie and costly in human lives. Lake Nyos in Cameroon is the most notorious gas-releasing lake, having killed 1,746 people when stored carbon dioxide was released en masse, annihilating nearby villages. On August 21, 1986, the eerie looking lake, surrounded by dark hills and containing settled areas in its curtilage, released a massive cloud of carbon dioxide totaling 1.2 cubic kilometers in volume.

As a result, the vast majority of those who encountered the cloud suffocated to death, unable to access oxygen as the cloud hugged the ground and spread throughout the village of Nyos and other nearby settled areas including Cha, Kam and Subum. Countless animals were lost along with human lives, while the extinguishing of candles indicated the arrival of the deadly cloud. Those resting close to the ground or first encountering the gas represented many fatalities, while some still standing survived as the gas remained closer to the ground. Now, equipment is in place to release gas to prevent another deadly buildup.

8. Large Hailstone Catastrophes

Frozen rain may sting slightly, but truly monstrous hailstones, sometimes weighing over a pound and measuring several inches in diameter, have been responsible for a disturbing range of fatalities throughout world history. Being struck on the head by falling ice is no laughing matter, particularly when that ice is formed into a rock-hard ball and is falling at maximum velocity. In the United States, a number of deaths, injuries and cases of extreme property damage have resulted from hailstones of substantial size and weight. Giant hail the size of a baseball may fall at speeds at around 100 mph. Hail 2.75 inches in diameter may smash windshields, while larger hail, up to 4.5 inches may punch a hole through a roof. Injuries can be horrific.

In one case, a runner was covered in welts and bruises, while a hail strike on a pizza delivery person in Fort Worth, Texas in 2000 was fatal. Previously, Fort Worth had hosted an ill-fated Mayfest gathering in May 1995 when hail pummeled a crowd of 10,000, injuring 400 people. A total of 60 people had to be sent to hospital. In 1988, 246 individuals in India lost their lives during a tragically fatal hail onslaught. While falling ice from the sky naturally poses extreme dangers, it is worth remembering that certain storms are better met with a riot shield than an umbrella. Better yet, just stay indoors if there is any indication of hail, as you don’t know how big the stones may get.

7. Sinkholes

Wishing the ground might open up and swallow one alive may be a clichéd expression, but in fact sinkholes, sometimes in urban areas, can cause untold devastation and shake our confidence in the Earth to the core. In some cases, sinkholes can kill as they swallow individuals, roads, and even entire buildings at depths of over 250 feet. In places around the world, the ground below the surface may be pockmarked with cavities and also less than solid. In certain cases, a thin layer of the uppermost portions of the Earth’s crust may conceal gaping holes capable of swallowing buildings, buses and pretty much anything else unfortunate enough to be in the way; that is, on top of such a hidden cavity when the inevitable collapse happens.

Sometimes triggered by an earthquake, sometimes by a sudden increase in pressure (as in certain construction projects), or as the result of flash flooding or the accumulation of slow-acting, groundwater-based erosion, sinkholes may result in catastrophic injuries, deaths and property damage. While even moderately sized sinkholes may be fatal, enormous sinkholes that bend the bounds of imagination have included such horrors as the monster sinkhole that opened in Guatamala City in 2010, spurred by tropical storm induced floodwater action. The hole measures around 60 feet wide and is estimated to be in the range of 30 stories in depth as judged by University of Kentucky hydrogeologist James Currens.

6. Geyser Attack

Geysers and hot springs may look fun, but they also present the risk of simply steaming or boiling careless viewers and adventurers alive. After all, erupting magma is obviously extremely dangerous, and most people will stay away from an erupting volcano, but many explorers are less aware of the danger of an encounter with what could turn out to be a killer geyser or a hot spring from hell. When viewing geysers or examining hot springs, don’t get too close, and in an uncharted walk in geyser country, be prepared to run for your life. Geysers in popular places such as Yellowstone National Park have killed a disturbing number of visitors, adding up to more than 20 documented deaths.

The most recent fatality to take place was in 2016, when a young man walked over 200 yards into the Norris Geyser Basin, only to die in a hot spring that boiled him to death. Many people visiting Yellowstone have been burned either by spraying geysers or by breaking through the thin layer of rock into boiling water underneath. In other cases, individuals have died when attempting to navigate over or around chasms or pools of boiling water, only to fall in and get fatally scalded. The moral of the story? Avoid stepping off marked paths and be sure to resist the temptation to pioneer, as the unknown is also the most unsafe when it comes to natural areas full of boiling water.

5. Lava Haze Encounter

It’s not just the liquid magma of volcanoes that presents a threat. Just as a lake filled with carbon dioxide can pose a great risk, volcanic activity can create highly dangerous situations where those in the vicinity of the action may be deprived of oxygen, exposed to toxic fumes and possibly risk loss of life. Unnervingly, grisly deaths have occurred from lava haze, where hot gases have accumulated and subsequently suffocated and burned the lungs of those explorers who engage in geo-tourism or attempt to study volcanoes. The ground may look safe and walkable near a volcanically active zone in certain cases, but accumulating gases may suddenly make such an area uninhabitable, with no air left to breathe.

As volcanic activity occurs, a plethora of chemicals are released, which may accumulate undetected, be suddenly let forth with little warning, or be greatly compounded through chemical reactions with solutions and compounds already present on the Earth. The lava haze capable of causing death can contain extremely dangerous chemicals resulting from the mixing of hot volcanic products with seawater. The deadly vapors can not only limit access to oxygen, but cause nasty, potentially fatal chemical burns and lung damage. The makeup of volcanically produced haze can include hydrochloric acid caused by the reaction of lava with seawater, sulfuric compounds, and carbon compounds. While less visible than lava, lava haze is another reason to keep your distance when the Earth is agitated!

4. Pyroclastic Bomb Drop

More than just air raids present the risk of being smitten from above. Nature does its best to rain down not only frozen hazards in the form of hail, but freshly launched weaponry in the form of pyroclastic bombs hurled forth as the result of intense volcanic activity. Extreme dangers are presented not only by flowing magma when a volcano erupts, but by the presence of flying pyroclastic bombs. These pyroclastic bombs are little less than natural weapons of mass destruction if encountered. The objects are one of the worst ways to get clobbered to death by rocks as angry volcanos not only spew molten magma, but launch the pre-hardened, bomb-shaped stones at incredible velocities to great distances.

Unfortunately, the desire of some amateur volcanologists to collect the bombs may create an even greater risk of being hit. If small, the objects may inflict bullet-like wounds. If large, the impact may cause immediate death through the force of impact. While extremely hot, lava bombs are not molten on the outside. The largest specimens may blast entire sections of a mountainside into the air when they land, and could easily demolish a car, tree, or house. However, the lava bombs present highly useful research opportunities as freshly ejected specimens of volcanic material from deep below the surface. Researchers may forget due caution as they put themselves within a volcanic bomb volley’s striking distance just to gather a specimen.

3. Lava Tube

Volcanic areas do not just present the risk of eruption; a risk comparable to a sinkhole from falling into open lava tubes makes walking near volcanically active areas a recipe for disaster in many cases. While a sinkhole may lead to crushing or falling injuries, a lava tube fall may result in more than just injury from a fall or limb entrapment. Lava tubes that are more open and accessible are sometimes explored by the intrepid who visit volcanos, but the areas are frequently fraught with danger. Further risks are presented by the presence of either hot lava, steam, or toxic gases. The physical structure of areas near to volcanic activity can be unpredictable and hard to clearly define and navigate.

Accidentally falling into a treacherous lava tube poses the greatest threat, as one does not know what may lie at the bottom or how far or hard one may fall. Lava tubes can be incredibly deep, with serious threats facing anyone who explores out of bounds and ends up falling into the tube. In one case, a 15-year-old boy fell a full 25 feet down into a lava tube while carelessly exploring after climbing a fence. Fortunately, the victim was able to be rescued, but the results of a mishap involving a lava tube can have a far more serious end. The presence of lava tubes goes to confirm why volcanically active areas must be treated with great caution, whether or not there appears to be active magma present.

2. Rogue Wave

Not a tsunami, a rogue wave may appear at any point on the ocean, causing death by sweeping people out to sea who are near the coast, even if a little ways inland. Rogue waves at sea present further immediate threats to ships, which may be swamped, hit by debris or capsized. As a result of the risk posed to the public by rogue waves, signs indicating the dangers of standing near the open sea have frequently been posted to discourage careless beach combing. Turning one’s back on the water is especially risky, while even facing the water is not advisable in rocky areas where being caught up in a sudden avalanche of water comes with the added risk of being dashed against the rocks.

Once believed to be mere tall tales told by overly imaginative sailors, rogue waves have been discovered to be real life events backed by physics through exploration of accounts and theoretical analysis. Rogue waves can not only be reported both on the high seas and when the strike near the shore, but statistical and physical analysis shows how certain waves at intervals may gain great power and size. In certain cases, ships have been downed by absolutely enormous waves, exceeding 80 feet in certain cases.

1. Maelstrom

The ocean is a massive water body, and where whirlpools form at sea, the results can be disastrous. Immortalized in Norwegian culture as the Maelstrom and described as a phenomenon in Sicily under the name Charybdis, the oceanic whirlpool is a force to be both feared and avoided, and also difficult to study for obvious reasons. In the Scandinavian regions, the exceedingly powerful Moskstraumen Maelstrom formed where the sea is actually very shallow, between 131 and 197 feet in depth. The resulting tidal movements of the water, exacerbated by the action of the moon led to grand legends forming of enormous whirlpools capable of bringing ships down to the ocean floor. While such a maelstrom indeed would be dangerous in many craft, the reports have certainly been, shall we say, bolstered by popular mythology.

In the case of the Charybdis, one notorious Mediterranean whirlpool was ascribed to the action of a sea monster (if you’ve ever read Homer’s Odyssey you’ll no doubt be familiar). The Strait of Corryvreckan is known to be home to one of the worst whirlpools on the planet. While not the largest or strongest, this whirlpool was “tested” with a dummy wearing a lifejacket, which was sucked out of sight and recovered some distance away, showing signs of scraping the bottom deep below the swirling waves, while the depth indicator read 226 feet.


“DANGER!” Traveler –

WIF Around the World