A rarely seen volcanic eruption on a sub-Antarctic island has been captured by a team of scientists sailing near the remote area.
Heard Island, about 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) southwest of Australia and just 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) north of the coast of Antarctica, is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) long and is dominated by an active volcano known as Big Ben. Volcanic activity at the spot has been known since 1881, and satellites recorded eruptions there in the 1990s and 2000s. However, because the island is remote and rarely visited, eye-witness accounts of such eruptions are few and far between.
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Researchers and crew on board the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) ship Investigator witnessed the eruption during a University of Tasmania-led expedition to investigate whether iron from underwater volcanoes in the region exerts control on the dynamics of phytoplankton blooms and fertilization of the Southern Ocean.