McDonald Islands Volcano - John Seach


Australian Territory, Southern Indian Ocean

53.03 S, 72.60 E
summit elevation 212 m
complex volcano

Note: A volcano with a similar name is called "Macdonald", located in French Polynesia.

The McDonald Islands are located 40 km to the west of Heard Island volcano, in the sub Antarctic. The McDonald Islands were discovered by Captain William McDonald on 4th January 1854.

The McDonald Island group consists of McDonald Island (area 1 sq km), and the much smaller Flat Island and Meyer Rock. McDonald Island contains two main hills, Maxwell Hill (212 m) in the south, and Samarang Hill (112 m) in the north. The volcano summit contains lava domes with spines.

The Australian Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI).
In October 2002 the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve was declared. The Islands have been recognised as a World Heritage site.

2004-05 Eruptions
Satellite images showed hotspots in November 2004, and July 2005.

2000-01 Reports
The ship RSV Aurora Australis passed close to McDonald Islands volcano on 9th November 2000. Emissions up to 50 m high were visible on the NE side of the summit crater. Satellite images taken on 6th November 2001 during a check of Australia's maritime boundaries, showed the island doubled its size between 1980 and 2001.

1999 Observations
On 13th January 1999 the ship JOIDES Resolution passes within 7 km of the McDonalds Islands. Fumarolic activity was observed at the island, with reports of steaming on the southern part of the island for the first time.

1996-97 Eruption
An eruption plume was observed from a plane at McDonald Island in December 1996. On 5th January 1997 another eruption plume was seen from an Antarctic sightseeing flight. The ship RSV Aurora Australis sailed 7 km from the island on 18th March 1997 en route to Heard Island. Observers saw multiple steam emissions from a fissure system on the volcano's north flank. On 2nd April 1997 the ship FV Austral Leader sailed within 2.6 km of the island. Observers saw emissions rising from the summit and flanks of the north and middle parts of the island, possible lava flows, and a yellow-green deposit close to the source of the steam emissions. During 18-21 March 1997 pumice was observed on the beaches of Heard Island, 45 km east.

1992 Eruption
A submarine vent near McDonald Islands erupted in December 1992. This was the first eruption at the volcano in 75,000 years!.

Further Reading

Kiernan, K. and McCONNELL, A.N.N.E., 1999. Geomorphology of the Sub-Antarctic Australian Territory of Heard Island-McDonald Island. Australian Geographer30(2), pp.159-195.

Kriwoken, L.K. and Holmes, N., 2007. Emerging Issues of Australia’s Sub-Antarctic Islands: Macquarie Island and Heard Island and McDonald Islands. Looking South: Australia’s Antarctic Agenda, pp.149-64.

McDonald Islands Volcano Eruptions

2004-05, 2001, 1996-97, 1992