Mt Erebus Volcano | John Seach


Ross Island, Antarctica

77.53 S, 167.17 E
summit elevation 3794 m

Mount Erebus is the world's southernmost historically active volcano. The volcano is located on the western half of Ross Island. Erebus is noted for its convecting anorthoclase phonolite lava lake.

Mt Erebus was discovered in 1841 by Sir James Clark Ross. In 1979 an Air New Zealand sightseeing flight crashed into Mt Erebus, killing all on board.

Strombolian eruptions occur from the surface of the lava lake. The lava lake activity is midway between the low level of Erta Ale and the high activity at Ambrym. Erebus plays an important role in the chemistry of Antarctic atmosphere. The volcano contains a stable near-summit magma reservoir. Observations of the lava lake in 2010-11 indicated that hydrogen gas in the magmatic phase was 1.6 mol%, and that no combustion of hydrogen was occurring.

Other in active volcanoes on Ross Island are Mt Bird, Mt Terra Nova, and Mt Terror.

Mt Erebus Lava Lake
An active lava lake has been present at Mt Erebus volcano since 1972. The lake represents the upper level of a magma chamber. The lava lake produces up to 6 strombolian eruptions per day. Composition of the lake is anorthoclase phonolite magma.

The lava lake crater is 160 m in diameter and 100 m deep. It is located in the Main Crater (500 by 600 m diameter, 120 m deep). Lava bombs ejected from the lava lake are on average 30 cm to 2 m in diameter and usually land on the Main Crater floor and rim.

Two lava lakes have been present at Erebus in recent years. The main lava lake has been named "Ray Lake". Werner's vent sometimes contains a second lava lake.

Magma System at Mount Erebus
Mt Erebus volcano has a large and stable magma system. The volcano has persistent current activity. The composition of lava at the volcano has remained constant for the past 17,000 years.

Potential for future large eruptions
Currently the volcano is erupting as an open vent system. Large explosive eruptions have occurred previously at Erebus, with tephra layers being found 180 km from the volcano.

2013 Eruptions
A report in February 2013 indicated there were 2 lava lakes at Mt Erebus volcano.

2004 Activity
Two lava lakes were present at Mt Erebus volcano in 2004.

1984 Eruptions
From late 1984 until early 2005, activity at Erebus volcano increased. Lava bombs up to 10 m in diameter were thrown up to 1 km above the Main Crater rim and over 1 km from the lava lake. Pre 1972 bombs are found 1.5 km from the crater, indicating that larger eruption occur periodically at Erebus.

Further reading
Kelly, Peter J., et al. "Geochemistry and mineralogy of the phonolite lava lake, Erebus volcano, Antarctica: 1972–2004 and comparison with older lavas." Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 177.3 (2008): 589-605.

Mt Erebus Volcano Eruptions

1972-2018, 1963, 1957?-58, 1955, 1947, 1915, 1912.