Tips&TricksSecrets Under Ice: The Volcanic Threat Hidden in Antarctica

Secrets Under Ice: The Volcanic Threat Hidden in Antarctica

Mount Erebus in Antarctica.
Mount Erebus in Antarctica.
Images source: © Adobe Stock | SD Images

10:31 AM EDT, April 16, 2024

The world is teeming with mysteries, and one region that might be harboring numerous secrets is Antarctica. This continent, covered in ice, is also dotted with volcanoes that have the potential to erupt at any moment. With 138 known volcanoes, the question arises: could they pose a real threat to the world someday?

Antarctica ranks as the fifth-largest continent, spanning 5.5 million square miles. Researchers from Yale University have uncovered fascinating evidence suggesting that Antarctica once experienced high and positive temperatures, likely hosting lush rainforests even 100 million years ago. Today, however, it presents itself as a vast icy expanse, below which lies a surprising number of volcanoes.

Is an eruption likely in Antarctica's volcanoes?

Antarctica is often called a realm of volcanoes. Experts estimate the presence of 138 volcanoes, suggesting the possibility of undiscovered ones, adding to this number. A pivotal study published in the Geological Society journal in 2017 highlighted the identification of the first 91 volcanoes. According to Livescience.com, only two of these volcanoes are active and considered capable of erupting in the foreseeable future. These are:

Scientists continue monitoring volcanic activity, yet predicting an eruption's exact timing remains a significant challenge. Researchers use specialized equipment, such as seismometers, to monitor volcanic activity, detecting seismic movements that could indicate an impending eruption.

What more do we know about Antarctica's volcanoes?

Two volcanoes in Antarctica are believed to be active and capable of erupting. The most recent eruption occurred two years ago, in 2022, when the active volcano Erebus demonstrated its power. Fascinatingly, Erebus has been forming its distinct shape for around 1.3 million years. Regular ejections of volcanic bombs attest to Erebus's activity, even though it's veiled by ice.

Moreover, Antarctica hosts a variety of fumaroles and volcanic vents. These geological features release gases and vapors into the atmosphere. These emissions can accumulate when conditions align, forming ice tower fumaroles that may stand nearly ten feet tall.

Sources: Livescience.com, Geological Society.

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