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Winter 2014-15: Expedition to Heard Island, Southern Indian Ocean

Location of Heard Island
Location of Heard Island
The volcano of Heard Island, Mawson Peak
The volcano of Heard Island, Mawson Peak
The expedition vessel, the Cmdr. Fourcault
The expedition vessel, the Cmdr. Fourcault
Discovering Life in the Extremes

This trip is truly unique: it is an opportunity to participate in a major expedition to an extraordinary remote subantarctic island in the Southern Ocean, searching for unknown life forms–new species, organisms capable of going into suspended animation, and life supported by the heat and emissions from the live volcano. You will be a working member of the expedition, assisting professional scientists and perhaps doing a project of your own. You will spend a full 30 days on the island, supported by the ship and helicopter.

The most remote UNESCO World Heritage Site

Not only is the expedition unique; the island itself is unique. Heard Island is a UNESCO World heritage site. The island is 20 miles long, surmounted by a 9000-ft. high live volcano. Erupting every few years, the volcano changes the topography around the summit; its current state is unknown. A major goal of the expedition is to climb the mountain and search for pockets of life supported by the heat and emissions near the summit. The glaciers and slopes around the foot of the volcano are also targets of the search: new species and first observational records are just waiting to be discovered. The scientific results will be significant: Heard Island has no introduced species, and any discoveries will change our understanding of island ecology.

Sail across some of the wildest Seas on Earth

The expedition will leave Cape Town, South Africa, in late December, 2015, sailing for about 12 days to reach Heard Island. The expedition vessel will be the Cmdr. Fourcault, a Belgian research vessel of 56m LOA and 9m beam, easily handling the expected team of 35 for Heard Island. Upon arrival, the helicopter will land the team and equipment, and the campsite capable of supporting the team for 30 days. Once the camp is operational, the climbers will depart for the volcano and other team members will spread out searching for unknown life wherever they can find it. The activities will continue until the facilities are dismantled and returned to the ship in preparation for the cruise back to Cape Town. The total time for the expedition will be 55 days, of which 30 days are on the island.

For more info, please contact us!

Brief infos:

  • Planned expedition date: around Dec 2014 / Jan 2015 - Jan / Feb 2015
  • Cost per participant: approx. €25,000 (no financial interest from VolcanoDiscovery)
  • Organisation: Dr Robert Schmieder / Cordell Expeditions
  • Character: Scientific expedition: active volcano – participation in exploration and discovery
  • More info: contact us or email us.
Heard volcano
Stratovolcano 2745 m / 9,006 ft
Australia, Southern Indian Ocean, -53.11°S / 73.51°E
Current status: restless (2 out of 5) Heard volcano eruptions:
2019, 2018 (?), 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012-13, 2006-08, 2003-04, 2000-01, 1993, 1992 (May), 1992 (Jan) (?), 1985-87, 1954, 1953, 1950-52, 1910, 1881 (?)
Typical eruption style

Latest news:

Wed, 16 Nov 2022, 15:00

Heard volcano (Kerguelen Plateau) - Smithsonian / USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report for 9 November-15 November 2022 (Continuing Activity)

Satellite images of Heard Island's Big Ben volcano showed thermal anomalies of varying intensity over Mawson Peak (the summit area) and on the NW flank on 9 and 14 November. Weather clouds prevented views of the volcano for the rest of the month. The thermal anomaly on 9 November consisted of three pixels that trended NE-SW from the summit. ... Read all
Thu, 14 Apr 2022, 00:03

Heard volcano (Kerguelen Plateau) - Smithsonian / USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report for 6 April-12 April 2022 (Continuing Activity)

Satellite images of Heard Island's Big Ben volcano showed thermal anomalies of varying intensity over Mawson Peak (the summit area) and on the NW flank during the previous month. Weather clouds prevented views of the volcano for 11 of the 14 acquisitions during 11 March-13 April. On 11 March a small thermal anomaly at the peak was visible along with a larger anomaly over a vent or multiple vents about 1 km W; the larger anomaly was elongated NE-SW, suggesting a lava flow. ... Read all
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