Eruption update: Island in British Overseas Territory is growing in size

Nov 23, 2005

A rare volcanic eruption is expanding the size of an island in British Overseas Territory. Spectacular new satellite images show that Montagu Island, an erupting volcano in the South Sandwich Islands, South Atlantic has grown by 50 acres (0.2 km2), equivalent to 40 football pitches in the last month.

Researchers from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) were alerted to satellite data showing a large and fast flowing lava flow that is pouring into the sea like a huge waterfall.

Dr John Smellie, a leading authority on volcanoes from BAS said, "Red hot lava has formed a molten river 90 metres wide that is moving fast, possibly several metres per second and extending the shoreline on the north side of the island. This event is special because Montagu Island is mostly ice covered and it's very rare that we get to make direct observations of eruptions under ice sheets."

"My work usually involves studying Antarctic rock formations to find out how past eruptions affected the growth and retreat of ice sheets over the last 30 million years. This opportunity to monitor a live eruption and see how it affects ice cover is priceless."

Dr Smellie plans to fly over the volcano in the New Year to get more close-up views for his research. "It will be the highlight of my career" he says.

Source: British Antarctic Survey

Explore further: The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope: Unlocking the secrets of dark matter and dark energy

Related Stories

Antarctica's retreating ice may re-shape Earth

Feb 27, 2015

(AP)—From the ground in this extreme northern part of Antarctica, spectacularly white and blinding ice seems to extend forever. What can't be seen is the battle raging underfoot to re-shape Earth.

Recommended for you

What was here before the solar system?

16 hours ago

The solar system is old. Like, dial-up-fax-machine-old. 4.6 billion years to be specific. The solar system has nothing on the universe. It's been around for 13.8 billion years, give or take a few hundred ...

What is lunar regolith?

16 hours ago

When you're walking around on soft ground, do you notice how your feet leave impressions? Perhaps you've tracked some of the looser earth in your yard into the house on occasion? If you were to pick up some ...

Herschel's hunt for filaments in the Milky Way

17 hours ago

Observations with ESA's Herschel space observatory have revealed that our Galaxy is threaded with filamentary structures on every length scale. From nearby clouds hosting tangles of filaments a few light-years ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.