South Sandwich Islands (global-adventures.us): Volcanoes that rise up to 1.86 miles (3 kilometers) from the seafloor in the ocean around the remote South Sandwich Islands have been discovered by scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS). Using ship-borne sea-floor mapping technology during research cruises onboard the vessel RRS James Clark Ross, the scientists found 12 volcanoes beneath the sea surface. Craters left by collapsing volcanoes and 7 active volcanoes visible above the sea as a chain of islands are up to 3.1 miles (5 kilometers) in diameter.
“There is so much that we don’t understand about volcanic activity beneath the sea – it’s likely that volcanoes are erupting or collapsing all the time,” said Dr. Phil Leat from British Antarctic Survey at the International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences in Edinburgh. “The technologies that scientists can now use from ships not only give us an opportunity to piece together the story of the evolution of our earth, but they also help shed new light on the development of natural events that pose hazards for people living in more populated regions on the planet.”
The research is important also for understanding what happens when volcanoes erupt or collapse underwater and their potential for creating serious hazards such as tsunamis. The sub-sea landscape with its waters warmed by volcanic activity creates a rich habitat for many species of wildlife and adds valuable new insight about life on earth.
There is no native population on South Georgia Island and the South Sandwich Islands, a British overseas territory in the southern Atlantic Ocean. The collection of remote and inhospitable islands is home to two BAS scientific bases at Bird Island and at the capital, King Edward Point.
The southern eight islands of the Sandwich Islands Group were discovered by Captain James Cook in 1775. Russian naval officer Fabian Gottlieb Benjamin von Bellingshausen discovered the northern three islands of the group in 1819.
The mostly volcanic South Sandwich Islands form an arc running from north to south, starting about 350 miles (560 kilometers) southeast of South Georgia Island.
12 large underwater volcanoes near the South Sandwich Islands have been discovered by scientist from the British Antarctic Survey. Cumberland Bay and the Thatcher Peninsula with King Edward Cove are located in the central part of South Georgia Island. The Allardyce Range with the summit Mt. Paget dominates the upper portion of the picture.