Discovery of a recurrent lava lake on Saunders Island (South Sandwich Islands) using AVHRR imagery
Monitoring of the remote SouthSandwichIslands volcanic arc, using advanced very high resolution radiometer (AVHRR) data, has identified a radiant pixel on channels 3 (3.55–3.93 μm) and (rarely) 4 (10.3–11.3 μm). The position of the pixel is coincident with Mount Michael, SaundersIsland, the active summit crater of a snow-covered basaltic stratovolcano with a persistent steam plume. The radiant pixel was continuously present in successive AVHRR images acquired during intervals of several months in the period examined (March 1995–February 1998), although apparently disappearing for similar time intervals. More than 5000 images were examined during this study. The radiant pixel is interpreted to indicate that the crater has contained alavalake, the first to be recorded in the SouthSandwichIslands. The lake appears to persist in the crater for several months at a time, at least. It may have drained completely at times and was probably absent when the crater was viewed briefly during an overflight in January 1997. Persistent or recurring lavalakes are very uncommon world-wide and that at Mount Michael is one of only two recorded in the Antarctic region.
Authors: Lachlan-Cope, T., Smellie, J.L., Ladkin, R.