Lava Lake Was Discovered on Remote British Island

Lava Lake Was Discovered on Remote British Island

Remote Mount Michael volcano was photographed having a rare lava lake inside it’s crater

There are only seven known enduring lava lakes on the globe, but now it seems satellite pictures have photographed an eighth one. Located inside Mount Michael volcano in Saunders Island, a British Overseas Territory (BOT) and one of the most remote locations on the planet. The 990m-high stratovolcano’s setting makes it very difficult to climb, so the satellite photos are basically the only way of looking inside the opening at the summit.

Saunders Island is part of the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands British Overseas Territory. Dr Peter Fretwell from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) stated:

“The island has been visited on numerous occasions, but no-one has ever climbed the mountain. If you look at the imagery you can see why: the peak is surrounded by a huge snow-mushroom, extremely soft snow with an icing sugar like consistency, probably caused by the continual venting of steam by the volcano. You cannot walk over this, you would have to dig through it, but taking the time to do this on such an active volcano would be dangerous.”

A research study from the British Antarctic Survey and University College London have confirmed the presence of lava lake using satellite data collected over the past three decades, details of their findings have been published in the latest edition of the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research.

Even though they appear quite often in films and video games, lava lakes are actually very rare in real life as far as geological features go. That is why out of the almost 1,500 potentially active volcanoes on Earth, only eight – including this one – feature a persistent lake of lava. The experts’s data indicates the continuous molten lava lake is between 90m and 215m wide, with a temperature of about 1,000C. BAS geologist and study co-author Alex Burton-Johnson stated:

“We are delighted to have discovered such a remarkable geological feature in the British Overseas Territory. Identifying the lava lake has improved our understanding of the volcanic activity and hazard on this remote island, and tells us more about these rare features, and finally, it has helped us develop techniques to monitor volcanoes from space.”