Geology And Geophysics

Active Volcanoes in Antarctica



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Active volcanoes in Antarctica

The continent of Antarctica is perched in the center of the Southern Sea, yet despite the subzero temperatures the land and its surrounding area is dotted with more then thirty-five volcanos. Antarctica is the southernmost land mass, and the fifth largest land area in the region, yet the extreme cold and ice sheets up to a mile thick prevent humans from taking permanent residence. Antarctica is encompassed by the Arctic Circle, home to the South Pole and because of its location has only Eastern/Western destinations as being directly south in the Earth’s magnetic field all compass points register as ‘North.’

Most of the volcanoes near Antarctica had contributed to the creation of the continent, before becoming dormant or completely extinct, yet a few still had their lava bubble forth more recently. The largest of the South Sandwich Islands, Montagu Island had an eruption as recently as 2011. That same year, Mount Erebus, one of the cornerstone volcanoes on Ross Island belched out into the stratosphere.  From April 1995 to December 2006 a volcano on the Saunders Island (UK), named ‘Michael,’ experienced frequent eruptions, although, these were all minor occurrences.

As for the last part of the twentieth century the volcanoes of Bristol Island (1956), Protector Shoal (1962), Deceptive Island (1970), Thule Islands (1975), has each taken a turn rumbling lava out into the frigid waters of the Southern Sea. Only since the end of World War II has science had the freedom, and safety to explore the frozen southern continent, and witness the empirical evidence left behind by the volcanic activity.  Many of the eruptions, pre WWII are calculations based on the data gleamed from evidence found beneath the thick layers of ice.  The Seal Nunataks Group volcano in West Antarctica, the Candlemas Island volcano and the Hodson volcano of South Sandwich Islands, all had eruptions before or during the ‘Great Wars’ that had to be documented at a later time due to the dangers of the conflicts.

The continent of Antarctica is unique beyond the extremely cold temperatures. The continent is the only one of the seven which is on a solid tectonic plate, meaning the Transantarctic Mountains were created by a family of volcanoes. The Current Active volcanoes in the Antarctic of Michael, Mount Erebus, and Montagu Island are followed by an eager line up of waiting volcanoes ready to be brought back to active duty, if internal pressure allows.


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