Secret volcanoes lurking beneath Antarctica: Could they erupt?

Antarctica is filled with fumaroles volcanic vents releasing gas into the atmosphere
An undated image of map showcasing active volcanoes. — Antarctica Glaciers
An undated image of map showcasing active volcanoes. — Antarctica Glaciers 

Antarctica, famous for its massive ice cover, hides a surprising secret beneath its icy surface: a vast number of volcanoes.

Under the enormous West Antarctic Ice Sheet lies the largest volcanic region on Earth, with as many as 138 volcanoes. In a study published in the Geological Society journal in 2017, researchers uncovered 91 previously unknown volcanoes, raising concerns about potential eruptions on Earth's southernmost continent.

Currently, Antarctica is home to only two known active volcanoes: Deception Island and Mount Erebus. Deception Island, located north of the main continent among the South Shetland Islands, last erupted in 1970 and is closely monitored by scientists. Mount Erebus, towering over McMurdo Station on Ross Island, has been continuously erupting since at least 1972. Known for its gas and steam plumes, as well as Strombolian eruptions, Mount Erebus boasts a unique lava lake, a rare phenomenon that requires specific conditions to sustain.

Despite the limited number of active volcanoes, Antarctica is filled with fumaroles — volcanic vents releasing gas into the atmosphere. These emissions can lead to the formation of fumarolic ice towers, reaching heights of up to 10 feet. Monitoring these volcanoes poses a challenge due to logistical difficulties and extreme environmental conditions. Scientists employ various instruments, including seismometers, to detect seismic activity associated with volcanic unrest.

While the presence of active volcanoes and fumaroles in Antarctica is well-documented, predicting future eruptions remains elusive. Scientists play a crucial role in understanding the volcanic activity of this remote continent and its potential impact on the global environment. Additionally, recent reports indicate that Mount Erebus emits gold dust, valued at $6,000 (Rs 500,000) daily. However, accessing the mountain for further investigation proves challenging due to its remote location and inhospitable conditions, as reported by Live Science.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Earth Observatory reveals that precious metal dust from Mount Erebus has been detected as far as 621 miles. This highlights the far-reaching effects of volcanic activity in Antarctica and underscores the importance of ongoing research and monitoring efforts.