Near Antarctica discovered a very rare type of volcano. Why is it special?

In the world there are about 1500 potentially active volcanoes (that is those that have already exploded or you may explode in the future). But only a handful of them can boast an interesting feature – the presence of lakes of liquid boiling lava in the crater. To date, it was aware of the existence of only 7 such volcanoes are able to constantly maintain the boiling lava lake. To this list recently added another volcano.


A rare find

It’s called mount Michael and is on top of a snow-covered Saunders island, part of the British South sandwich Islands, located in the South Atlantic. Its height is 990 meters.

That on the island there is a volcanic activity has been known for 200 years. Expeditions were periodically visited the island to Saunders, but scientists had never been on the top. It is surrounded by very deep and soft snow layers, which are formed because of the constant emission of steam.

As explained by researcher Peter Fretwell, “the pinnacle is surrounded by extremely soft and loose snow cap with a consistency similar to icing sugar”. People was very dangerous to go up there. Therefore, satellite observations have become the only opportunity to explore this place.

In 1990-ies scientists using the orbiting satellites were able to detect on the island thermal anomaly. But to confirm the presence of the volcano continuous lava lake then failed. Techniques and methods the observations were not as accurate as it is now.

A study using more modern scientific equipment has shown that the inside of the mount Michael volcano really is a lake of lava.


Satellite image shows the release of steam by the mount Michael volcano

After measurement, the researchers found that the width of the lake ranges from 90 to 215 meters and a temperature of about 1279 degrees Celsius.

Why is this discovery important?

In contrast to the intermittent emission of lava that can be seen only during eruptions, such lakes can exist about a hundred years. Scientists explain that there are very few volcanic lakes. Opening on Saunders island became the eighth known case on the planet in history.

It looks like the lava lake of Nyiragongo

The other seven are: the Democratic Republic of Congo (Nyiragongo), Ethiopia (ERTA Ale), the Antarctic (Erebus), Vanuatu (Yasur and Ambrym), Hawaii (Kilauea) and in Nicaragua (Masaya).

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