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Antarctica: Earth’s Largest Volcanic Region

It sounds unlikely, but the largest known concentration of volcanoes on Earth is in Antarctica under the ice. Some of the fairly newly discovered volcanoes are capped by more than 2 miles of ice sheet. Scientists in 2017 using ice-penetrating radar and satellite data found 91 new volcanoes, with the tallest said to be over 13,000 feet.

Scientists have uncovered the largest volcanic region on Earth – two kilometres below the surface of the vast ice sheet that covers west Antarctica.

The project, by Edinburgh University researchers, has revealed almost 100 volcanoes – with the highest as tall as the Eiger, which stands at almost 4,000 metres in Switzerland. Geologists say this huge region is likely to dwarf that of east Africa’s volcanic ridge, currently rated the densest concentration of volcanoes in the world.

And the activity of this range could have worrying consequences, they have warned. “If one of these volcanoes were to erupt it could further destabilise west Antarctica’s ice sheets,” said glacier expert Robert Bingham, one of the paper’s authors. “Anything that causes the melting of ice – which an eruption certainly would – is likely to speed up the flow of ice into the sea.

“The big question is: how active are these volcanoes? That is something we need to determine as quickly as possible.”

via Guardian

There are 41 confirmed volcanoes listed in Antarctica according to a Wikipedia entry currently. The 2017 study claimed to have found 138 volcanoes, of which 91 were previously unknown, but are any of them active? Yes, in 2018 Mount Erebus is the most active volcano in Antarctica. It is the current eruptive zone of the Erebus hotspot.

The eerily breathtaking Mount Erebus today ranks as one of the most truly amazing and phenomenal ultra mountains in the world.

Sir James Clark Ross was the first non-indigenous human in our time to see this sight. He discovered the mount in 1841 during an active eruption. The first reach of the summit happened in 1908, and a robotic probe first explored the interior of the volcano in 1992. 

The summit of mount Erebus even contains a persistent lava lake, one of only five known on our planet.

Long-lasting lava lakes are extremely rare because they require active volcanoes with eruptions that produce enough active lava. Currently, there are only five lava lakes in the world: Erta Ale in Ethiopia, Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kilauea in Haiwaii, Mount Erebus in Antarctica and Villarrica in Chile.

via Scribol

Click each of the five lava lake locations linked above for images of each.


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