Last update: September 18th, 2019 at 6:00 pm
Hidden under a canopy of clouds in the far South Atlantic Ocean between South America and Antarctica, a long-quiet volcano rumbled to life in May 2016. NASA satellites began picking up heat signatures and white plumes rising from Mount Sourabaya, a volcano located on Bristol Island in the South Sandwich Islands, in late April and early May. The volcano had been quiet for about 60 years before this eruption.
On May 25 the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite flew over the South Sandwich Islands. Although Bristol island is buried under cloud, the heat signature detected by the thermal bands on the MODIS instrument clearly indicated that there was a very large hotspot on the island. This strongly suggests volcanic activity – most likely hot lava flowing from the volcano.
Mount Sourabaya sits on the small, square-shaped Bristol Island, which lies under the heaviest band of clouds near the southern edge of the image. Black lines have been overlain on the image to mark the coastline of the islands. The hotspot is marked in red.