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Deception Island volcano

Updated: Feb 29, 2024 13:00 GMT -
caldera 576 m / 1,890 ft
Antarctica (World), -62.97°S / -60.65°W
Current status: normal or dormant (1 out of 5)

Deception Island is a 14 km wide, ring-shaped volcanic island at the south-western end of the South Shetland Islands, NE of Graham Land Peninsul.
It is one of the most well-known active volcanoes of the Antarctic region.
Deception Island is a sea-filled caldera with a diameter of 7 km with a narrow entry (Neptunes Bellows) on the SE side. The island forms a natural harbour and was a popular base for whaling ships in the 19th century. There were huts and shelters and, later, scientific observatory stations, which were damaged during the last eruptions in 1967 and 1969.

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Typical eruption style: explosive
Deception Island volcano eruptions: 1987 (?), 1972 (?), 1970, 1969, 1967, 1912 ± 5 years, 1871 ± 40, 1842, 1839 (?), 1827 ± 2, ca. 1800, 1641 ± 3

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Deception Island volcano is located on the axis of the Bransfield Rift spreading center. Numerous volcanic vents are located along ring fractures circling the low island and were the sites of historic eruptions.
The volcano contains maars on the shores of 190-m-deep caldera (Port Foster), the largest of which is 1-km-wide Whalers Bay at the entrance to the harbor.

1991 unrest
Increased seismic activity and water temperatures in the caldera of Deception Island were detected in the austral summer 1990-91 by Spanish-Argentine scientists, but no eruption occurred.

1987 possible activity
Satellite images showed a plume from Deception Island in 23 July 1987 that extended ~100 km SE. Local seismic activity was detected as well, but no evidence of an eruption could be found during later field surveys.

1970 eruption
Deception Island volcano had an eruption on 12 August 1970. The first evidence for this eruption came from observers on research stations on the Antarctic Peninsula.
O'Higgins Antarctic base (Argentina) 170 km from Deception Island recorded a significant earthquake on 12 August. On the morning of 13 August, Bellingshausen Station, located 110 km to the south, received ash fall and there was a strong odor of sulfur. Other stations in the Antarctic Peninsula reported similar events, including electric storms.
The eruption was the most violent on Deception Island in recent decades. It began with phreatomagmatic explosions caused by mixing sea water and magma. The eruption opened a fissure with 5 marine and 7 subaerial vents, one of which under glacial ice.
Later field investigations showed that the eruption in 1970 came from vents in the same area as the previous eruption in 1967.
Charles H SHULTZ (1972) "Eruption at Deception Island, Antarctica, August 1970", GSA Bulletin September 1972, v. 83(9), pp. 2837-2842

1969 eruption
A short-lived eruption occurred on Deception Island in 1969 from a series of fissures under a thin (ca. 100 m thick) glacier over a distance of 4 km. The eruption created a large and sudden discharge of meltwater that overflowed the glacier, severely damaging buildings on the island. ...more

1967 eruption
Following seismic unrest detected in April, a new eruption began at Deception Island on 4 December 1967. The eruption opened new vents along a 5 km fissure in the northern part of the caldera and formed a new island on the western side of Telefon Bay. ...more

See also: Sentinel hub | Landsat 8 | NASA FIRMS

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