Australian CSIRO scientists witness rare eruption of an icy volcano, Big Ben [+ Video]

Scientists from the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) witnessed the rare eruption of an icy volcano, Big Ben. Located on the distant sub-Antarctic Heard Island the volcano is active and erupting since 1881. It includes the second-highest peak in Australian territory, Mawson, 2,745 meters high.

The volcano is a composite cone close to 25 kilometers in diameter and is located 2,547 miles southwest of Perth in Western Australia. The region is so remote that no human has visited it in more than 30 years.

Big Ben eruptions are quite common, however since the island is remotely located, it is very rare that humans are present to witness such an event. Usually, the news is circulated via satellite photos. It was for the first time that a team of scientists was nearby when the magnificent explosion of fumes from the volcano started.

Mike Coffin, the chief scientist of the expedition and a geophysicist and a professor at the University of Tasmania Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, said it was an incredible moment when they suddenly witnessed vapor coming out from Mawson Peak and other active Australian volcanoes.

The Investigator Research Vessel was carrying ten scientists aboard all of whom were fortunate to see the smoky display of the volcanoes.

Rare Video of Heard Island Volcano Big Ben Erupting

The team of IMAS (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies) was visiting the Kerguelen Plateau’s island off Antarctica in the Southern Indian Ocean to explore the connection between active volcanoes on seafloor and iron mobilization supporting life in that particular Ocean region.

The research is trying to prove how iron ions present in the underwater volcanoes help fertilize the ocean and cause blooming of phytoplankton. It will be an important finding regarding biological studies as phytoplankton is known to contribute almost 50% oxygen in the atmosphere. It means for a balanced content of oxygen in the atmosphere; it is vital that the phytoplankton sustains and thrive.