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Bristol volcano forms an ice-capped, roughly rectangular island 12x14 km wide and is one of the largest of the South Sandwich Islands chain. Its highest peak is 1100 meters (3,609 feet) above sea level.
Although very active, it is one of the least studied and least known volcanoes in the world due to the remote location. Prior to its most recent eruption in 2016, detected on satellite imagery, the only other known eruption of Bristol Island occurred in 1956.
Lava flow field on Bristol Island on 22 Sep 2016 (image: Landsat 8 / annotated by Culture Volcan)
The latest eruption of the volcano during April - late July 2016 could only be observed from space. An analysis of images taken before, during and after the eruption allows to see a vast field of fresh lava flows. ...more
The lava flows were erupted from the Mount Surabaya cone, the volcano's most active vent, and covered a large area of the western half of the rectangular-shaped island. The area occupied by the flows can be estimated to be about 1.7 million square meters, while their thickness remains unknown, and hence, a precise volume estimation is not possible. Visible on satellite images as well are steam vents at the contacts of the hot lava field with the ice and elongated crevasses in the ice sheet west and around the lava flows, created by melt-water draining underneath the ice.
Lava flow field on Bristol Island during its eruption on 1 May 2016 (image: Landsat 8 / annotated by Culture Volcan)
Ash emissions from Bristol island on 19 July 2016 (image: Terra/MODIS/NASA via South Sandwich Islands Volcano Monitoring Blog)
The eruption on the remote island continues. Recent satellite images show increased ash emissions as well as two dark stripes that likely are newly erupted lava flows to the west and northwest from Mount Sourabaya volcano.
Bristol island volcano on 26 May, showing a dark spot in its NW center, possibly a new cinder cone (image: Aqua/MODIS/NASA via South Sandwich Islands Volcano Monitoring Blog)
Eruptive activity continues at the remote volcano and might have become more intense recently. ...more
Satellite images from past days show ash emissions that appear stronger and more regular than earlier on, drifting into northeasterly directions. Also, recent imagery shows a dark patch on the island itself, near the summit, which could be a new cinder cone and/or associated lava flows. According to the South Sandwich Islands Volcano Monitoring Blog's latest update, the recent satellite images "show some faintly dark lines suggesting the presence of lava flows and also a dark patch just west-northwest of the Mount Sourabaya area." [less]
Gas and steam plume from Bristol volcano (Landsat 8 image, annotated by Culture Volcan)
A new volcanic eruption is occurring at the remote island, recent satellite imagery reveals. ...more
Since late April, a thermal hot spot could be detected originating the volcano's summit, and clear-weather views showed a significant plume of gas and steam, possibly containing volcanic ash, drifting from the volcano. The volcano's last known activity was in 1956. However, without closer observation is difficult to know what type of activity is going on. Two earthquakes of magnitudes around 5.6 and 4.7 were detected to have occurred near the island on 24 and 25 April; they are likely in relation with the new activity. [less]
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