, Volume 67, Issue 5, pp 415-422
Date: 20 Nov 2004

First recorded eruption of Mount Belinda volcano (Montagu Island), South Sandwich Islands

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The MODVOLC satellite monitoring system has revealed the first recorded eruption of Mount Belinda volcano, on Montagu Island in the remote South Sandwich Islands. Here we present some initial qualitative observations gleaned from a collection of satellite imagery covering the eruption, including MODIS, Landsat 7 ETM+, ASTER, and RADARSAT-1 data. MODVOLC thermal alerts indicate that the eruption started sometime between 12 September and 20 October 2001, with low-intensity subaerial explosive activity from the island’s summit peak, Mount Belinda. By January 2002 a small lava flow had been emplaced near the summit, and activity subsequently increased to some of the highest observed levels in August 2002. Observations from passing ships in February and March 2003 provided the first visual confirmation of the eruption. ASTER images obtained in August 2003 show that the eruption at Mount Belinda entered a new phase around this time, with fresh lava effusion into the surrounding icefield. MODIS radiance trends also suggest that the overall activity level increased significantly after July 2003. Thermal anomalies continued to be observed in MODIS imagery in early 2004, indicating a prolonged low-intensity eruption and the likely establishment of a persistent summit lava lake, similar to that observed on neighboring Saunders Island in 2001. Our new observations also indicate that lava lake activity continues on Saunders Island.

Editorial responsibility: J. Gilbert