Rare Lake of Bubbling Lava Discovered on Remote Antarctic Island

This false-color satellite picture of Mount Michael reveals the lava lake (in red) within the volcano– just the 8th consistent lake of molten rock ever found. The inset reveals the area of Saunders Island.

Credit: Landsat 8/British Antarctic Study

A substantial lake of sizzling hot lava has actually been found in a volcano on a remote sub-Antarctic island in the South Atlantic Ocean. It’s just the 8th lake of molten rock ever found in the world.

Researchers from University College London (UCL) and the British Antarctic Study (BACHELOR’S DEGREE) found this unusual lava lake on Saunders Island in the South Sandwich Islands, about 1,000 miles (1,610 kilometers) north of the eastern edge of Antarctica’s Weddell Sea. [See Photos of Another Lava Lake in Antarctica]

By taking a look at satellite pictures of the unoccupied island in between 2003 and 2018, the scientists discovered that the snow-covered volcano of Mount Michael on Saunders Island, normally masked from view by heavy clouds, includes a lake of lava within its crater, in between 300 and 700 feet (90 and 215 meters) in size.

Measurements reveal that the molten rock in the lava lake is hot: in between 1,812 and 2,334 degrees Fahrenheit (989 and 1,279 degrees Celsius).

Saunders Island becomes part of a remote volcanic chain called the South Sandwich Islands. They are organized with the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia and designated as a British Abroad Area.

The island and volcanic mountain were “very challenging to gain access to, and without high-resolution satellite images it would have been really challenging to find out more about this incredible geological function,” lead author of the brand-new research study, UCL geographer Danielle Gray, stated in a declaration

Although bubbling lakes of lava are a typical image connected to volcanoes, just 7 have actually been discovered prior to, stated BAS geologist Alex Burton-Johnson, a co-author of the brand-new research study. [10 Most Hazardous Countries For Volcanoes (Photos)]

Researchers had actually learnt about a temperature level anomaly over the volcano on Saunders Island for numerous years, however a BACHELOR’S DEGREE research study of satellite images in 2001 wasn’t able to identify what triggered it, Burton-Johnson informed Live Science.

Volcanic Mount Michael on remote Saunders Island in the sub-Antarctic South Sandwich Islands is always covered by snow and usually veiled by clouds.

Volcanic Mount Michael on remote Saunders Island in the sub-Antarctic South Sandwich Islands is constantly covered by snow and normally veiled by clouds.

Credit: Bucktrout/British Antarctic Study

Since the island is so remote, really couple of scientists have actually ever been to Mount Michael. “It has actually been checked out at the bottom really hardly ever, and nobody has actually ever got to the top.”

However the most recent research study utilized high-resolution satellite pictures of the mountain, taken in wavelengths of light developed to highlight any geothermal activity. Those pictures revealed conclusively that the crater of Mount Michael includes a lake of molten rock, he stated, although the scientists have not had the ability to identify how far it lies listed below the rim of the volcano.

While numerous volcanoes toss out lava when they emerge and form short-lived swimming pools and lakes of molten rock, these normally dry into strong rock within a couple of days or weeks, he stated.

The other 7 consistent lakes of lava are: the volcanoes of Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Erta Ale in Ethiopia; Mount Erebus next to the Ross Sea in Antarctica; Mount Yasur in Vanuatu; the volcanic island of Ambrym in Vanuatu; Kilauea in Hawaii; and the Masaya caldera in Nicaragua.

Geologists were at first puzzled regarding why lava from deep within the Earth dries into rock around the majority of the 1,500 or two volcanoes in the world however remains liquid in simply a couple of locations, Burton-Johnson stated. [Antarctica Photos: Meltwater Lake Hidden Beneath the Ice]

They later on figured out that the heat from eruptions of volcanic gases, such as steam, sulfur dioxide and co2, might keep some lava lakes at a high adequate temperature level to keep them molten, he stated.

That seems the case on Mount Michael on Saunders Island, which has actually included a consistent lake of lava because a minimum of 2003, and most likely longer.

Burton-Johnson stated the next action would be for somebody to fly an airplane or an aerial drone over the crater of Mount Michael to take pictures of the lava lake, however that might take years to organize.

” The issue is that the South Sandwich Islands are so extremely remote, there is really little ship traffic that passes by there,” he stated. “So there are not a big quantity of chances for research study vessels because location.”

Their research study is released in the most recent concern of the journal Volcanology and Geothermal Research Study

Initial post on Live Science