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Report on Heard (Australia) — December 1992


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 17, no. 12 (December 1992)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Heard (Australia) New lava flow on SW flank

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1992. Report on Heard (Australia) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 17:12. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199212-234010



53.106°S, 73.513°E; summit elev. 2745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Evidence of recent eruptive activity was observed by Rod Ledingham, a geologist aboard the cruise ship Kapitan Klebnikov, during a visit . . . in mid-January. Lava had emerged from a new wedge-shaped graben-like feature that extended roughly 150 m down the summit cone's SW flank (figure 2). The flow had divided into two lobes and advanced to below 1,400 m elevation, apparently along approximately the same path taken by the 1985-87 lava. Steam rose from its distal end, but the central part of the flow appeared to be lightly snow-covered. A narrow plume rose from the summit crater, and the area from there E to the caldera wall was covered with gray ash. Vapor was also rising from a fissure roughly 100 m below the summit.

A team of five biologists has been on the island for ~14 months, but weather conditions are poor and the start time of the eruption is uncertain. Attila Vrana, head of the team, reported a strongly felt earthquake on 19 December that was not documented by the Worldwide Standardized Seismic Net.

Geological Summary. Heard Island on the Kerguelen Plateau in the southern Indian Ocean consists primarily of the emergent portion of two volcanic structures. The large glacier-covered composite basaltic-to-trachytic cone of Big Ben comprises most of the island, and the smaller Mt. Dixon lies at the NW tip of the island across a narrow isthmus. Little is known about the structure of Big Ben because of its extensive ice cover. The active Mawson Peak forms the island's high point and lies within a 5-6 km wide caldera breached to the SW side of Big Ben. Small satellitic scoria cones are mostly located on the northern coast. Several subglacial eruptions have been reported at this isolated volcano, but observations are infrequent and additional activity may have occurred.

Information Contacts: P. Quilty, Australian Antarctic Division, Tasmania.