Thursday, August 11, 2005

McDonald Island volcano displays some activity!

A volcano on Australia's remote, tiny and uninhabited McDonald Island in the Southern Ocean is erupting for the first time since 2001, the government announced on Wednesday.Satellite images detected the volcanic activity on the World Heritage listed island, which is 4 100km south-west of Australia, said Environment Minister Ian Campbell.The volcano lay dormant for 75 000 years before erupting for the first time in 1992, he said.There have been several eruptions since then, the last in 2001 when satellite images showed the size of the island had doubled.

"The McDonald Island volcano is unusual because unlike most oceanic volcanoes, it sits on a submarine plateau, which means its eruptions are not as wild and fiery as some - instead producing a slow-moving mass of lava that seeps and spreads," Campbell said."Despite the slow-moving nature of the lava, eruptions over the past 13 years have caused startling changes to the island's geography, obliterating some landmarks and creating new ones."

While people tend to think of volcanoes as destructive, this remarkable natural phenomenon is also productive, creating new land that will make the island more attractive to seabirds, particularly the king penguin."The island is within the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve, one of the world's biggest.Campbell said "almost nothing" is known of McDonald Island "because its uninviting terrain and surrounding hazardous seas make it virtually impossible to get ashore."

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