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Home / Science / Extremely rare lava lake discovered on a remote South Atlantic volcano

Extremely rare lava lake discovered on a remote South Atlantic volcano



Scientists have used satellite imagery to detect an extremely rare "persistent lava lake" on a remote sub-antarctic island in the South Atlantic.

Researchers from the British Antarctic Survey and University College London studied satellite data to identify the unusual feature on Mount Michael volcano on the uninhabited island of Saunders.

The island belongs to the South Sandwich Islands, a British Overseas Territory and one of the most remote areas of the world.

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  An aerial view of Mount Michael Volcano.

An aerial view of Mount Michael Volcano.
(Pete Bucktrout, British Antarctic Survey)

A "geothermal anomaly" was discovered in 2001 in low resolution satellite images, leading to further investigations. A study of higher-resolution satellite data collected between 2003 and 2018, along with advanced processing techniques, revealed that the lava lake.

"We are pleased to have discovered such a remarkable geological feature in the British Overseas Territory," Dr. Alex Burton-Johnson from the British Antarctic Survey in the statement. " The identification of the lava lake has improved our understanding of the volcanic activity and the danger on this remote island and told us more about these rare features. Finally, it helped us develop techniques for monitoring volcanoes from space. "

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In the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research a research report published.

  False color Landsat 8 satellite image of Saunders Island and the lava lake in the crater of the volcano Mount Michael. The picture was taken on January 31, 2018. The map shows the position of Saunders Island in the South Atlantic. (USGS / NASA / British Antarctic Survey)

False-color Landsat 8 satellite image of Saunders Island and the lava lake in the crater of Mount Michael. The picture was taken on January 31, 2018. The map shows the position of Saunders Island in the South Atlantic. (USGS / NASA / British Antarctic Survey)

The study's lead author, Danielle Gray of University College London, said the remote location of Mount Michael made satellite data invaluable. "It's extremely difficult to access, and without high-resolution satellite imagery, it would have been very difficult to learn more about this amazing geological feature," she said in the statement.

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Smithsonian notes that eruptive activities at Mount Michael were not registered until the early 19th century. The last confirmed eruption of the remote volcano occurred between August and October 2015.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers


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