Report on Erebus (Antarctica) — January 2021
Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 46, no. 1 (January 2021)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke. Research and preparation by Paul Berger.
Erebus (Antarctica) Fewer thermal anomalies during 2020 compared to recent years
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2021. Report on Erebus (Antarctica) (Venzke, E., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 46:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN202101-390020
77.53°S, 167.17°E; summit elev. 3794 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Erebus, located on Ross Island, Antarctica, and overlooking the McMurdo research station, is the southernmost active volcano in the world. The stratovolcano, which frequently has active lava lakes in its 250-m wide summit crater, is primarily monitored by satellite.
Thermal activity during 2020 was at lower levels than in recent years. The total number of thermal pixels, as recorded by MODIS thermal emission instruments aboard NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites, was 76 (table 6), similar to low totals recorded in 2000 and 2015.
Sentinel-2 satellite images showed two lava lakes, with one diminishing in size during the year (figure 29). Occasionally a gas plume could be observed. The volcano was frequently covered by atmospheric clouds on days when the satellite passed over.
Geological Summary. Mount Erebus, the world's southernmost historically active volcano, overlooks the McMurdo research station on Ross Island. It is the largest of three major volcanoes forming the crudely triangular Ross Island. The summit of the dominantly phonolitic volcano has been modified by one or two generations of caldera formation. A summit plateau at about 3,200 m elevation marks the rim of the youngest caldera, which formed during the late-Pleistocene and within which the modern cone was constructed. An elliptical 500 x 600 m wide, 110-m-deep crater truncates the summit and contains an active lava lake within a 250-m-wide, 100-m-deep inner crater; other lava lakes are sometimes present. The glacier-covered volcano was erupting when first sighted by Captain James Ross in 1841. Continuous lava-lake activity with minor explosions, punctuated by occasional larger Strombolian explosions that eject bombs onto the crater rim, has been documented since 1972, but has probably been occurring for much of the volcano's recent history.
Information Contacts: Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).