Ring o’ Fire, South

Song titles and colloquial terminology aside, you probably have an idea of what scientists mean when they talk about the “Ring of Fire” (National Geographic, Wikipedia).

However, even if you do, a bit of review will be useful for this post. Here’s an imaginative 360° Video that provides a top-level introduction.

Here’s a more mundane, but informative 2 minute introduction from National Geographic.

Notice that the videos don’t show or say much about the southernmost reaches of the Ring of Fire. That’s an unfortunate oversight. It turns out that there’s plenty of volcanic activity down around the South Pole, and due to some recent research, it’s clear that there’s more than anyone ever imagined.

Before getting into that new research, let’s take a quick look at the most well known volcano in Antarctica, Mount Erebus (Smithsonian, National Geographic, Wikipedia). It’s the southernmost active volcano on Earth, and it’s pretty impressive. Here’s a video of it erupting that some brave researchers managed to capture back in 2011.

Mount Erebus has a host of other fascinating features, too.

Now, as alluded to earlier in this post, a number of news stories this week highlighted some research from the University of Edinburgh that shows Antarctica has almost a hundred more volcanoes than anyone knew about before, and the highest is almost as tall as Switzerland’s 3,970-metre Eiger. Check out these articles!

Another climate-change nightmare: 91 new volcanoes beneath Antarctica’s ice (Avi Selk, Washington Post)
Antarctica is home to considerably more volcanoes than previously thought (Andrew Liptak, The Verge)
Student’s idea leads to Antarctic volcano discovery (University of Edinburgh)
A new volcanic province: an inventory of subglacial volcanoes in West Antarctica (Maximillian Van Wyk de Vries, Robert G. Bingham & Andrew S. Hein, University of Edinburgh)

In addition, other research shows that the volcanoes in Antarctica are contributing to the melting of the glaciers. As if there isn’t enough on the list, here’s another one for “Things that make you go, uh-oh!”

Find out more about Antarctica and Earth in general