For the largest city on the island of Basse-Terre and capital of Guadeloupe, see Basse-Terre. For the capital of Saint Kitts and Nevis see Basseterre. Basse-Terre Island is the name of the western-half of Guadeloupe proper, in the Lesser Antilles. To the South lies Les Saintes and Dominica. In the North-East, it is separated from the other half of Guadeloupe proper, Grande-Terre, by a narrow sea channel called the Rivière Salée. Basse-Terre Island has a land area of 847.8 km2. At the 2006 census the population of Basse-Terre Island was 186,661 inhabitants living in 16 communes; the population density was 220 inhabitants per square kilometre. The largest city on Basse-Terre Island is the city of Basse-Terre which had 37,455 inhabitants in its urban area at the 2006 census; the city of Basse-Terre is the prefecture of Guadeloupe. Despite its name, Basse-Terre Island is the highest island of Guadeloupe, rising to 1,467 metres above sea level at the Soufrière volcano; the name of the island is the result of French terminology used in the Caribbean in the 17th century.
In the Caribbean, the prevailing winds blow from the northeast, thus the western side of the Caribbean islands, the leeward side, protected from the trade winds, was called the Basse-Terre in 17th-century French because it is situated downwind compared to the eastern side of the Caribbean islands, the windward side, exposed to the trade winds and was called the Cabesterre. This distinction between a Basse-Terre and a Cabesterre was used in several Caribbean islands colonized by France; the capital of Saint Kitts and Nevis, for example, was named Basseterre because it is located on the western side of the island of Saint Kitts. Basse-Terre Island was called "Guadeloupe" and as in other French Caribbean islands its western side was called Basse-Terre while its eastern side was called Cabesterre; the capital and main settlement of Guadeloupe was established on the Basse-Terre side of the island in the 17th century and was called the city of Basse-Terre. In the 18th century, the entire island came to be known as Basse-Terre Island under the influence of its largest settlement the city of Basse-Terre, the name Guadeloupe was used for the combined islands of Basse-Terre Island and Grande-Terre.
La Grande Soufrière, the tallest mountain in the Lesser Antilles, is located on the island. It is an active volcano; the surrounding area of Basse-Terre has a rough volcanic relief fertile land. The surrounding areas of Basse-Terre consists of forest and sugar, coffee and cocoa plantations; the island has a land area of 847.8 km2. The eastern coast of Basse-Terre Island, known as the Windward Coast, is exposed to the trade winds and receives a lot of rain, whereas the western coast of the island, known as the Leeward Coast is protected from the winds by the Soufrière volcano and is thus much drier; the most populated communes on the island are, in descending order of population, Baie-Mahault, Petit-Bourg, Capesterre-Belle-Eau, Sainte-Rose, Basse-Terre, Saint-Claude. Above the city of Basse-Terre on a mountain road, is the village of Saint-Claude, at the base of the Soufrière volcano; the village is noted for stately homes. Tours to ascend the Soufrière can be arranged; the starting point is at Saint-Claude.
The volcano is dormant. About three miles east, is the village of Gourbeyre where Fort Louis Delgres was built in 1650 by Charles Houël; this fort guarded the approach to the city of Basse-Terre and served in several battles against the British. About eight miles south-south-east is the village of Trois-Rivières, a fishing community rich in ancient settlements of the peaceful Arawaks. Near the village is an archaeological park which features sculpted and engraved rocks and relics left by the Arawaks in a grotto deep in the forest. A few beaches are located along the coast and south of the city of Basse-Terre. There are fishing areas
The Soufrière Hills volcano is an active, complex stratovolcano with many lava domes forming its summit on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. Many volcanoes in the Caribbean are named Soufrière; these include La Soufrière or Soufrière Saint Vincent on the island of Saint Vincent and La Grande Soufrière on Guadeloupe. After a long period of dormancy, the Soufrière Hills volcano became active in 1995 and has continued to erupt since, its eruptions have rendered more than half of Montserrat uninhabitable, destroying the capital city and causing widespread evacuations: about two thirds of the population have left the island. It is andesitic in nature, the current pattern of activity includes periods of lava dome growth, punctuated by brief episodes of dome collapse which result in pyroclastic flows, ash venting, explosive eruption; the volcano is monitored by the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. Volcanic gas emissions from this volcano are measured by a Multi-Component Gas Analyzer System, which detects pre-eruptive degassing of rising magmas, improving prediction of volcanic activity.
2460 BCE: An explosive eruption formed English's Crater. 1550 CE: Between 25 and 65 million cubic metres of lava was erupted at Castle Peak. Seismic activity had occurred in 1897–1898, 1933–1937, again in 1966–1967, but the eruption that began on 18 July 1995 was the first since the turn of the 20th century in Montserrat; when pyroclastic flows and mudflows began occurring the capital, was evacuated, a few weeks a pyroclastic flow covered the city in several metres of debris. The first phreatic explosion in this new period of activity occurred on 21 August 1995, such activity lasted for 18 weeks until it caused an andesitic lava dome formation; this was confined by a sector-collapse scar. This period lasted for another 60 weeks, after which there were major dome collapses and two periods of explosive volcanic eruptions and fountain-collapse pyroclastic flows; the explosion blanketed Plymouth, 6 kilometres away, in a thick layer of ash and darkened the sky completely. Earthquakes continued to occur in three epicenter zones: beneath the Soufrière Hills volcano, in the ridge running to the north-east, beneath St George's Hill, about 5 kilometres to the north-west.
A large eruption on 25 June 1997 resulted in the deaths of nineteen people. The island's airport was directly in the path of the main pyroclastic flow and was destroyed. Montserrat's tourist industry crashed, although it began to recover within fifteen years; the governments of the United Kingdom and Montserrat led the aid effort, including a £41 million package provided to the people of Montserrat. The riots followed a £10 million aid offer by International Development Secretary Clare Short, prompting the resignation of Bertrand Osborne Chief Minister of Montserrat, after allegations of being too pro-British and not demanding a better offer; the British destroyer HMS Liverpool took a large role in evacuating Montserrat's population to other islands. About 7,000 people, or two-thirds of the population, left Montserrat; the following is a list of Montserrat settlements destroyed by the eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano: The following is a list of Montserrat settlements abandoned after the eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano.
Most of these settlements were badly affected or inundated by pyroclastic flows between June and December 1997. On 24 December 2006, streaks of red from the pyroclastic flows became visible. On 8 January 2007, an evacuation order was issued for areas in the Lower Belham Valley, affecting an additional 100 people. At 11:27 pm local time on Monday 28 July 2008, an eruption began without any precursory activity. Pyroclastic flow lobes reached Plymouth; these involved juvenile material originating in the collapse of the eruption column. Further, a small part of the eastern side of the lava dome collapsed, generating a pyroclastic flow in Tar River Valley. Several large explosions were registered, with the largest at 11:38 pm; the height of the ash column was estimated at 12,000 m above sea level. The volcano has become one of the most monitored volcanoes in the world since its eruption began, with the Montserrat Volcano Observatory taking detailed measurements and reporting on its activity to the government and population of Montserrat.
The observatory is operated by the British Geological Survey under contract to the government of Montserrat. The 9 October 2008 issue of the journal Science suggests that two interconnected magma chambers lie beneath the surface of the volcano on Montserrat – one six kilometres below the surface and the other at 12 kilometres below the surface, they show a link between surface behaviour and the size of the deeper magma chamber. On 5 February 2010, a vulcanian explosion propelled pyroclastic flows down several sides of the mountain, on 11 February 2010, a partial collapse of the lava dome sent large ash clouds over sections of several nearby islands including Guadeloupe and Antigua. Inhabited areas of Montserrat itself received little ash accumulation through either event. List of volcanoes in Montserrat National Geographic Seconds From Disaster episodes Satellite imagery of 11 February 2010 eruption Montserrat Volcano Observatory - Current monitoring of the Soufrière Hills Volcano in Montserrat.
USGS Info on Soufrière Hills Volcano 2009 activity at Soufrière Hills Volcano, from NASA Earth Observatory Photos taken f
Types of volcanic eruptions
Several types of volcanic eruptions—during which lava and assorted gases are expelled from a volcanic vent or fissure—have been distinguished by volcanologists. These are named after famous volcanoes where that type of behavior has been observed; some volcanoes may exhibit only one characteristic type of eruption during a period of activity, while others may display an entire sequence of types all in one eruptive series. There are three different types of eruptions; the most well-observed are magmatic eruptions, which involve the decompression of gas within magma that propels it forward. Phreatomagmatic eruptions are another type of volcanic eruption, driven by the compression of gas within magma, the direct opposite of the process powering magmatic activity; the third eruptive type is the phreatic eruption, driven by the superheating of steam via contact with magma. Within these wide-defining eruptive types are several subtypes; the weakest are Hawaiian and submarine Strombolian, followed by Vulcanian and Surtseyan.
The stronger eruptive types are Pelean eruptions, followed by Plinian eruptions. Subglacial and phreatic eruptions are defined by their eruptive mechanism, vary in strength. An important measure of eruptive strength is Volcanic Explosivity Index, an order of magnitude scale ranging from 0 to 8 that correlates to eruptive types. Volcanic eruptions arise through three main mechanisms: Gas release under decompression causing magmatic eruptions Thermal contraction from chilling on contact with water causing phreatomagmatic eruptions Ejection of entrained particles during steam eruptions causing phreatic eruptionsThere are two types of eruptions in terms of activity, explosive eruptions and effusive eruptions. Explosive eruptions are characterized by gas-driven explosions that propels tephra. Effusive eruptions, are characterized by the outpouring of lava without significant explosive eruption. Volcanic eruptions vary in strength. On the one extreme there are effusive Hawaiian eruptions, which are characterized by lava fountains and fluid lava flows, which are not dangerous.
On the other extreme, Plinian eruptions are large and dangerous explosive events. Volcanoes are not bound to one eruptive style, display many different types, both passive and explosive in the span of a single eruptive cycle. Volcanoes do not always erupt vertically from a single crater near their peak, either; some volcanoes exhibit lateral and fissure eruptions. Notably, many Hawaiian eruptions start from rift zones, some of the strongest Surtseyan eruptions develop along fracture zones. Scientists believed that pulses of magma mixed together in the chamber before climbing upward—a process estimated to take several thousands of years, but Columbia University volcanologists found that the eruption of Costa Rica’s Irazú Volcano in 1963 was triggered by magma that took a nonstop route from the mantle over just a few months. The Volcanic Explosivity Index is a scale, for measuring the strength of eruptions, it is used by the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program in assessing the impact of historic and prehistoric lava flows.
It operates in a way similar to the Richter scale for earthquakes, in that each interval in value represents a tenfold increasing in magnitude. The vast majority of volcanic eruptions are of VEIs between 0 and 2. Volcanic eruptions by VEI index Magmatic eruptions produce juvenile clasts during explosive decompression from gas release, they range in intensity from the small lava fountains on Hawaii to catastrophic Ultra-Plinian eruption columns more than 30 km high, bigger than the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 that buried Pompeii. Hawaiian eruptions are a type of volcanic eruption, named after the Hawaiian volcanoes with which this eruptive type is hallmark. Hawaiian eruptions are the calmest types of volcanic events, characterized by the effusive eruption of fluid basalt-type lavas with low gaseous content; the volume of ejected material from Hawaiian eruptions is less than half of that found in other eruptive types. Steady production of small amounts of lava builds up the broad form of a shield volcano.
Eruptions are not centralized at the main summit as with other volcanic types, occur at vents around the summit and from fissure vents radiating out of the center. Hawaiian eruptions begin as a line of vent eruptions along a fissure vent, a so-called "curtain of fire." These die down. Central-vent eruptions, meanwhile take the form of large lava fountains, which can reach heights of hundreds of meters or more; the particles from lava fountains cool in the air before hitting the ground, resulting in the accumulation of cindery scoria fragments. If eruptive rates are high enough, they may form splatter-fed lava flows. Hawaiian eruptions are extremely long lived. Another Hawaiian volcanic feature is the formation of active lava lakes, self-maintaining pools of raw lava with a thin crust of semi-cooled rock. Flows from Hawaiian eruptions are basal
In volcanology, a lava dome or volcanic dome is a circular mound-shaped protrusion resulting from the slow extrusion of viscous lava from a volcano. Dome-building eruptions are common in convergent plate boundary settings. Around 6% of eruptions on earth are lava dome forming; the geochemistry of lava domes can vary from basalt to rhyolite although the majority are of intermediate composition The characteristic dome shape is attributed to high viscosity that prevents the lava from flowing far. This high viscosity can be obtained in two ways: by high levels of silica in the magma, or by degassing of fluid magma. Since viscous basaltic and andesitic domes weather fast and break apart by further input of fluid lava, most of the preserved domes have high silica content and consist of rhyolite or dacite. Existence of lava domes has been suggested for some domed structures on the Moon and Mars, e.g. the Martian surface in the western part of Arcadia Planitia and within Terra Sirenum. Lava domes evolve unpredictably, due to non-linear dynamics caused by crystallization and outgassing of the viscous lava in the dome's conduit.
Domes undergo various processes such as growth, collapse and erosion. Lava domes grow by exogenic dome growth; the former implies the enlargement of a lava dome due to the influx of magma into the dome interior, the latter refers to discrete lobes of lava emplaced upon the surface of the dome. It is the high viscosity of the lava that prevents it from flowing far from the vent from which it extrudes, creating a dome-like shape of sticky lava that cools in-situ. Spines and lava flows are common extrusive products of lava domes. Domes may reach heights of several hundred meters, can grow and for months, years, or centuries; the sides of these structures are composed of unstable rock debris. Due to the intermittent buildup of gas pressure, erupting domes can experience episodes of explosive eruption over time. If part of a lava dome collapses and exposes pressurized magma, pyroclastic flows can be produced. Other hazards associated with lava domes are the destruction of property from lava flows, forest fires, lahars triggered from re-mobilization of loose ash and debris.
Lava domes are one of the principal structural features of many stratovolcanoes worldwide. Lava domes are prone to unusually dangerous explosions since they can contain rhyolitic silica-rich lava. Characteristics of lava dome eruptions include shallow, long-period and hybrid seismicity, attributed to excess fluid pressures in the contributing vent chamber. Other characteristics of lava domes include their hemispherical dome shape, cycles of dome growth over long periods, sudden onsets of violent explosive activity; the average rate of dome growth may be used as a rough indicator of magma supply, but it shows no systematic relationship to the timing or characteristics of lava dome explosions. Gravitational collapse of a lava dome can produce a ash flow. A cryptodome is a dome-shaped structure created by accumulation of viscous magma at a shallow depth. One example of a cryptodome was in the May 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, where the explosive eruption began after a landslide caused the side of the volcano to fall, leading to explosive decompression of the subterranean cryptodome.
Coulées are lava domes that have experienced some flow away from their original position, thus resembling both lava domes and lava flows. The world's largest known dacite flow is the Chao dacite dome complex, a huge coulée flow-dome between two volcanoes in northern Chile; this flow is over 14 kilometres long, has obvious flow features like pressure ridges, a flow front 400 metres tall. There is another prominent coulée flow on the flank of Llullaillaco volcano, in Argentina, other examples in the Andes. Global Volcanism Program: Lava Domes USGS Photo glossary of volcano terms: Lava dome
Guadeloupe National Park
Guadeloupe National Park is a national park in Guadeloupe, an overseas department of France located in the Leeward Islands of the eastern Caribbean region. The Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin Nature Reserve is a marine protected area adjacent to the park and administered in conjunction with it. Together, these protected areas comprise the Guadeloupe Archipelago biosphere reserve; the General Council of Guadeloupe created the Guadeloupe Natural Park in 1970 to recognize the exceptional biodiversity of Basse-Terre's tropical forest and mountain massif. Although it was placed under the management of the National Forests Office, proposals emerged in 1977 to establish a national park, in order to improve management and control of the park lands; these proposals came to fruition on 20 February 1989 with the official establishment of Guadeloupe National Park. The Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin Nature Reserve was established in 1987, subsequently placed under the management of the park. In 1992, Guadeloupe National Park achieved international recognition when the core area of the park and the Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin Nature Reserve were designated as an international biosphere reserve by UNESCO.
For most of its history, it was the only French national park outside of metropolitan France. However, it lost that distinction with the 2007 creation of Réunion National Park and Guiana Amazonian Park; the boundaries of the national park encompass a core area of 173 square kilometres, a buffer zone of 162 square kilometres. The Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin Nature Reserve comprises 21 square kilometres marine, 16 square kilometres terrestrial; the core area encompasses 10% of the total territory of Guadeloupe, two-thirds of Basse-Terre's tropical forest, covers a range of elevations from 250 metres to the summit of the mountain massif at 1,467 metres. The highest point in the park is the summit of an active volcano. Other notable peaks include: Échelle, Grand-Sans-Toucher, the twin side-by-side summits of the Mamelles; the park comprises parts of 11 communes: Guadeloupe National Park may broadly be divided into three ecosystem types: The park's tropical rainforest varies in its character and species among several sub-ecosystems, depending on elevation.
The lower elevations of the park's buffer zone support a mesophilic forest, featuring trees such as white and red mahogany and jatobá. This ecologic area is used for agriculture, including banana plantations and other food crops. A montane moist forest covers 80% of the core area of the park, at elevations between 300 m and 1,000 m; this dense and luxuriant ecosystem harbors a great diversity of plant species: large trees that grow above 30 m. The high-elevation forests above 1,000 m are much less dense than the park's other forests, due to the wet conditions and constant cloud cover; these forests resemble savannas. Vegetation in the coastal zone faces the challenges of salinity in the air and soil, intense heat from the sun and its drying effect, the constant wind. Notable plant species in this environment include pear; the Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin Nature Reserve includes coastal wetland forests that are flooded either permanently or intermittently by fresh or salt water, comprising nearly half of Guadeloupe's mangrove swamps.
Due to intensive hunting during an earlier period in Guadeloupe's history, animal life in the park is limited in diversity and in populations. Some species, including parrots and parakeets, have been eradicated altogether; the park has 17 mammalian species. The most seen mammals in the park are the Guadeloupe raccoon, bats and the endangered agouti. Park authorities plan to reintroduce the manatee, extinct in Guadeloupe for a while; the park's birds are more numerous than mammals, numbering 33 bird species, the visitor may encounter hummingbirds, thrushes, pigeons, tyrant flycatchers, endemic Guadeloupe woodpeckers, others. Some sea turtles are found. Various types of koi fish are visible in the area. Aquatic and marine life includes crabs. Insects are indubitably the most plentiful creatures in the park, their exceptional diversity resulting in a number of surprising forms; some attain great size, such as Hercules beetles, the duppy bats, walking sticks. Among the interesting visitor sites in Guadeloupe National Park are: La Soufrière Carbet Falls the two Mamelles and the Traversée road Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin Nature Reserve numerous hiking trails throughout the park National parks of France World Network of Biosphere Reserves World Network of Biosphere Reserves in Latin America and the Caribbean Official site of Guadeloupe National Park Official site of Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin Nature Reserve UNEP-WCMC data sheet on the core area of the park UNEP-WCMC data sheet on the buffer zone of the park
A stratovolcano known as a composite volcano, is a conical volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava, tephra and ash. Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile with a summit crater and periodic intervals of explosive eruptions and effusive eruptions, although some have collapsed summit craters called calderas; the lava flowing from stratovolcanoes cools and hardens before spreading far, due to high viscosity. The magma forming this lava is felsic, having high-to-intermediate levels of silica, with lesser amounts of less-viscous mafic magma. Extensive felsic lava flows have travelled as far as 15 km. Stratovolcanoes are sometimes called "composite volcanoes" because of their composite stratified structure built up from sequential outpourings of erupted materials, they are in contrast to the less common shield volcanoes. Two famous examples of stratovolcanoes are Krakatoa, known for its catastrophic eruption in 1883 and Vesuvius, whose eruption in AD79 caused destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD.
Both eruptions claimed thousands of lives. In modern times, Mount St. Helens and Mount Pinatubo have erupted catastrophically, with lesser losses of lives; the possible existence of stratovolcanoes on other terrestrial bodies of the Solar System has not been conclusively demonstrated. The one feasible exception are the existence of some isolated massifs on Mars, for example the Zephyria Tholus. Stratovolcanoes are common at subduction zones, forming chains and clusters along plate tectonic boundaries where oceanic crust is drawn under continental crust or another oceanic plate; the magma forming stratovolcanoes rises when water trapped both in hydrated minerals and in the porous basalt rock of the upper oceanic crust is released into mantle rock of the asthenosphere above the sinking oceanic slab. The release of water from hydrated minerals is termed "dewatering", occurs at specific pressures and temperatures for each mineral, as the plate descends to greater depths; the water freed from the rock lowers the melting point of the overlying mantle rock, which undergoes partial melting and rises due to its lighter density relative to the surrounding mantle rock, pools temporarily at the base of the lithosphere.
The magma rises through the crust, incorporating silica-rich crustal rock, leading to a final intermediate composition. When the magma nears the top surface, it pools in a magma chamber within the crust below the stratovolcano. There, the low pressure allows water and other volatiles dissolved in the magma to escape from solution, as occurs when a bottle of carbonated water is opened, releasing CO2. Once a critical volume of magma and gas accumulates, the plug of the volcanic vent is broken, leading to a sudden explosive eruption. In recorded history, explosive eruptions at subduction zone volcanoes have posed the greatest hazard to civilizations. Subduction-zone stratovolcanoes, such as Mount St. Helens, Mount Etna and Mount Pinatubo erupt with explosive force: the magma is too stiff to allow easy escape of volcanic gases; as a consequence, the tremendous internal pressures of the trapped volcanic gases remain and intermingle in the pasty magma. Following the breaching of the vent and the opening of the crater, the magma degasses explosively.
The magma and gases blast out with full force. Since 1600 CE, nearly 300,000 people have been killed by volcanic eruptions. Most deaths were caused by pyroclastic flows and lahars, deadly hazards that accompany explosive eruptions of subduction-zone stratovolcanoes. Pyroclastic flows are swift, avalanche-like, ground-sweeping, incandescent mixtures of hot volcanic debris, fine ash, fragmented lava and superheated gases that can travel at speeds in excess of 160 km/h. Around 30,000 people were killed by pyroclastic flows during the 1902 eruption of Mount Pelée on the island of Martinique in the Caribbean. In March to April 1982, three explosive eruptions of El Chichón in the State of Chiapas in southeastern Mexico, caused the worst volcanic disaster in that country's history. Villages within 8 km of the volcano were destroyed by pyroclastic flows, killing more than 2,000 people. Two Decade Volcanoes that erupted in 1991 provide examples of stratovolcano hazards. On June 15, Mount Pinatubo spewed an ash cloud 40 km into the air and produced huge pyroclastic surges and lahar floods that devastated a large area around the volcano.
Pinatubo, located in Central Luzon just 90 km west-northwest from Manila, had been dormant for 6 centuries before the 1991 eruption, which ranks as one of the largest eruptions in the 20th century. In 1991, Japan's Unzen Volcano, located on the island of Kyushu about 40 km east of Nagasaki, awakened from its 200-year slumber to produce a new lava dome at its summit. Beginning in June, repeated collapse of this erupting dome generated ash flows that swept down the mountain's slopes at speeds as high as 200 km/h. Unzen is one of more than 75 active volcanoes in Japan; the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 smothered the nearby ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum with thick deposits of pyroclastic surges and lava flows. Although death toll is estimated between 13,000 and 26,000 remains, the exact number still remains unknown. Vesuvius is recognized as one of the most dangerous volcanoes, due to its
Werner Herzog is a German film director, author and opera director. Herzog is a figure of the New German Cinema, his films feature ambitious protagonists with impossible dreams, people with unique talents in obscure fields, or individuals who are in conflict with nature. Werner Herzog made his first film in 1961 at the age of 19. Since he has produced and directed more than sixty feature- and documentary films, such as Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Nosferatu the Vampyre, Lessons of Darkness, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, My Best Fiend, Grizzly Man, Encounters at the End of the World, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, he has published more than a dozen books of prose, directed as many operas. French filmmaker François Truffaut once called Herzog "the most important film director alive." American film critic Roger Ebert said that Herzog "has never created a single film, compromised, made for pragmatic reasons, or uninteresting. His failures are spectacular." He was named one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine in 2009.
Herzog was born Werner Stipetić in Munich, to Elizabeth Stipetić, an Austrian of Croatian descent, Dietrich Herzog, German. When Werner was two weeks old, his mother took refuge in the remote Bavarian village of Sachrang, after the house next to theirs was destroyed during a bombing raid in World War II. In Sachrang, Herzog grew up without a flushing toilet, or a telephone, he never saw films, did not know of the existence of cinema until a traveling projectionist came by the one-room schoolhouse in Sachrang. When Herzog was 12, he and his family moved back to Munich, his father had abandoned the family early in his youth. Werner adopted his father's surname Herzog, which he thought sounded more impressive for a filmmaker; the same year, Herzog was told to sing in front of his class at school, he adamantly refused, was expelled. Until he was age eighteen, Herzog listened to no music, sang no songs, studied no instruments, he said that he would give ten years from his life to be able to play the cello.
At an early age, he experienced a dramatic phase in which he converted to Catholicism, which only lasted a few years. He started to embark on some of them on foot. Around this time, he knew he would be a filmmaker, learned the basics from a few pages in an encyclopedia which provided him with "everything I needed to get myself started" as a filmmaker—that, the 35 mm camera he stole from the Munich Film School. In the commentary for Aguirre, the Wrath of God, "I don't consider it theft, it was just a necessity. I had some sort of natural right for a camera, a tool to work with", he won a scholarship to Duquesne University and lasted only a few days, but lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During his last years of high school, no production company was willing to take on his projects, so Herzog worked night shifts as a welder in a steel factory to earn the funds for his first featurettes. After graduating from high school, he was intrigued by the Congo after its independence, but only reached the south of the Sudan where he fell ill.
While making films, he had a brief stint at Munich University, where he studied history and literature. He earned money by participating in preproduction of a documentary for NASA with KQED. Summoned to the immigration office because of a violation of his visa status, he chose to flee to Mexico. Before leaving school, he bought a house in the UK, in what was the Moss Side area of Manchester. There he learned to speak English. In 1962, he made Herakles. In school there was an emphasis on Greek, in which he continues to read to this day. In 1971, while Herzog was location scouting for Aguirre, the Wrath of God in Peru, he narrowly avoided taking LANSA Flight 508. Herzog's reservation was cancelled due to a last-minute change in itinerary; the plane was struck by lightning and disintegrated, but one survivor, Juliane Koepcke, lived after a free fall. Long haunted by the event, nearly 30 years he made a documentary film, Wings of Hope, which explored the story of the sole survivor. Herzog, along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Volker Schlöndorff, led the beginning of the West German cinema movement.
The West German cinema movement consisted of documentarians that filmed on low budgets and were influenced by the French New Wave of cinema. Besides using professional actors—German and otherwise—Herzog is known for using people from the locality in which he is shooting. In his documentaries, he uses locals to benefit what he calls "ecstatic truth", he uses footage of the non-actors both playing roles and being themselves. Herzog and his films won many awards, his first major award was the Silver Bear Extraordinary Prize of the Jury for his first feature film Signs of Life. Most notably, Herzog won the best director award for Fitzcarraldo at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival. In 1975, his movie The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser won the Grand Prix Spécial du Jury at the Cannes Festival. Other films directed by Herzog nominated for Golden Palm are: Woyzeck and Where the Green Ants Dream, his films have been nominated at many other important festivals around the world: César Awards, Emmy Awards, European Film Awards and Venice Film Festival (Screa