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Extremely rare lava lake discovered on remote British island



False-color image of Saunders Island and the lava lake inside the mountain. Michael.
Image: Landsat 8 / BAS

Satellite images have confirmed the presence of a persistent lava lake in the crater of Mount Michael ̵

1; an active volcano on a remote island in the Southern Ocean.

Despite frequent appearances in movies and video games, lava lakes are actually quite rare in terms of geological features. Of the approximately 1,500 potentially active land volcanoes on Earth, only eight have a stable lava lake, including the new one. A research team from the British Antarctic Survey and University College London confirmed the presence of lava lakes using satellite data collected over the last three decades. Details of the discovery were published in the latest issue of the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research.

Mount Michaels lava pool is as wide as two football fields and has a high of almost 1,280 degrees Celsius. [19659006] Satellite imagery from the 1990s pointed to a persistent lava lake, as evidenced by thermal anomalies and signs of magma flowing out of the crater. However, the poor resolution of these images made it impossible to confirm. The remote location of this volcano on Saunders Island did not help, making close observation difficult. This island lies between the British South Sandwich Islands, about 1,550 kilometers east of the Falkland Islands.

Mt. Michael.
Image: Pete Bucktrout (British Antarctic Survey).

"Mount Michael is a volcano on a remote island in the Southern Ocean," study director Danielle Gray of University College London said in a press release. "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."

For the new study, BAS researchers used data collected by Landsat, Sentinel -2 and ASTER satellites from 2003 to 2018 and historical data from 1989. As the authors noted in the new publication, were identified as "persistent volcanic clouds and eruptions during the entire thirty-year period studied".

Image: Landsat 8 / BAS

The high resolution images revealed a lava lake with a diameter of 90 to 215 meters and temperatures of the lava melt of 989 to 1,279 degrees Celsius (1,812 to 2,334 degrees Fahrenheit).

"We are pleased to have discovered such a remarkable geological feature in the British Overseas Territory," said BAS geologist and study co-author Alex Burton-Johnson. "The identification of the lava lake has improved our understanding of volcanic activity and endangerment on this remote island and has told us more about these rare features, and has helped us develop techniques for monitoring volcanoes from space."

And in Just in case, you were curious about the other seven volcanoes with persistent lava lakes around the world like this: Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Erta Ale volcano in Ethiopia, Mount Erebus in Antarctica, Mount Yasur Vanuatu in Kilauea, Hawaii, Ambrym in Vanuatu and Masaya in Nicaragua.


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