[Music plays] (Mike Coffin) Today we’re circling Heard Island aboard the research vessel Investigator as part of the 58 day expedition to this part of the world.
We observed the summit of Heard Island which was called Big Ben Volcano Massif which is a top that is moss and peak.
Yesterday, when the weather cleared briefly, we saw that the volcano was erupting.
We saw a vapour being emitted from the top of the volcano and we saw lava flows coming down the flank of Big Ben.
This is a very exciting observation.
There are very few ships that come to this part of the world and in fact the last geological expedition that landed on Heard Island was in 1987, so nearly 30 years ago.
We’ve learned that lavas flow over the top of glacial ice at the top of the mountain and then they appear to descend beneath the ice at some point down the slope of the volcano.
So there’s a strong interaction between glacial ice and molten lava on the side of Big Ben.
Yes, seeing land after being at sea for a couple of weeks is always exciting but to see dynamic earth processes such as volcanoes erupting is an added bonus.
(Jodi Fox) So people don’t come down here very often and when they do they don’t get to see the summit usually so we rely on other data.
So to come down here and see the volcano and see it erupting is really amazing.
So the last couple of days we’ve seen land, McDonald Island and then Heard Island which is always exciting after a couple of weeks at sea and the exciting bit’s where that McDonald Island had a small amount of smoke coming from the top and even more exciting was that at Heard Island we could see the summit several times.
We could see smoke pluming from the top of the summit and we could see new lava down the side.