WATCH: Eruption filmed at one of Earth's remotest volcanoes
Tuesday, February 2, 2016, 12:51 PM - It's a heck of a long way to go to get a shot of a volcano erupting.
The images above come from the research vessel Investigator, dispatched to Heard Island by Australia's Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) earlier this year.
The volcano in question, known as Big Ben, is part of Mawson Peak, a 2,745-km tall mountain that is Australia's largest. Volcanic eruptions aren't rare, but the scientists aboard Investigator went nuts about the one at Big Ben because it's so remote that few have ever actually seen it happen in person.
"Seeing vapour emanating from both of Australia's active volcanoes and witnessing an eruption at Mawson Peak have been an amazing coda to this week's submarine research," the expedition's chief scientist, Mike Coffin, said in a release. "We have 10 excited geoscientists aboard Investigator, and our enthusiasm has spread to our 50 shipmates."
Heard Island is part of Australia, but it's so distant from the continent-nation that it is actually closer to Antarctica, and has a similar climate. It has no permanent population, and the Investigator was in the area to investigate underwater volcanism.
So far, the team has found around 50 underwater hydrothermal plumes, and are trying to establish if they are being emitted from active underwater volcanoes.
The expedition hopes to prove that the iron extruded by the plumes exerts an influence on phytoplankton blooms. Phytoplankton is crucial food source for marine life in the Southern Ocean, and are responsible for half the world's atmospheric oxygen, as well as influencing levels of carbon, nitrogen and other elements that affect Earth's climate.