The phenomenon is the eighth of its kind to be discovered and is similar to the constantly bubbling volcanoes seen in Hollywood films. Though most volcanoes erupt for just a few days, Mount Michael’s volcano persistently spits lava at temperatures of roughly 1,000°C. The volcano is on Saunders Island, part of the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, a British Overseas territory. It has never been climbed due to its unscalable crevassed icy surface.
The snow around the peak is said to have an icing sugar consistency because of the plumes of steam that blast its surface, making it especially dangerous to fly over.
A team of scientists from University College London and the British Antarctic Survey paired up to make the discovery.
The researchers analysed satellite imagery from 2003 to last year to identify the persistent lava lake.
Previous research had pointed towards a persistent lava lake.
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In 2001 low-resolution data suggested geothermal activity within the mountain, but couldn’t prove that there was a lava lake there.
With the help of advanced and modern satellite imagery technology, gathering data from remote locations such as Mount Michael has been made much easier.
Alex-Burton-Johnson, from the British Antarctic Survey, said: “The lava lake has improved our understanding of the volcanic activity and hazard on this remote island, and tells us more about these rare features.
“It has helped us develop techniques to monitor volcanoes from space.”
The lake is between 90m and 215m (700ft) wide.
Unlike most volcanoes, Mount Michael is believed to emit gas-rich lava, which never overflows nor cools enough for a “plug” of solidified rich to form.
The other seven known persistent lava lakes are Mount Nyiragongo (DR Congo), Erta Ale (Ethiopia), Mount Erebus (Antarctica), Ambrym and Mount Yasur (Vanuatu), Kilauea (Hawaii) and Masaya (Nicaragua).
Captain James Cook discovered the southern eight islands in 1775. South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is the least populated British overseas territory, reaching peaks of 35 people in the summer months.