Deception Island , Antarctica


Deception Island

Deception Island is an active volcano in the South Shetland Islands , off the Antarctic Peninsula . Its unique landscape comprises barren volcanic slopes, steaming beaches and ash-layered glaciers. It has a distinctive horseshoe shape with a large flooded caldera.  This opens to the sea through a narrow channel at Neptune ’s Bellows, forming a natural sheltered harbor.  

It is one of the only places in the world where vessels can sail directly into the center of a active volcano.  

Its total land area, including outlying islands, is about 38 square miles. It is approximately 9.3 miles (15 km) in diameter and rises to 1768 feet (539 m) above sea level at Mount Pond . Over 57% of the island is covered by permanent glaciers. A ring of hills runs around the island and is the principal drainage divide – ephemeral springs flow toward both the inner and outer coast. Several lakes are located on the interior side of the watershed. Kroner Lake is the only geothermal lagoon in the Antarctic.  The climate of Deception Island is polar maritime. The mean annual air temperature is 26 degrees Fahrenheit (-30C). Temperatures range from +51 to -18 F.  Prevailing winds are from the northeast and west. Extreme microclimates exist around steaming fumaroles, geothermaly heated water where temperatures of 158 F (700C) have been recorded.  

Nine species of seabird breed on the inland. The world’s largest colony

Of chinstrap penguins [Pygoscefis Antarctica] is located at Baily Head, on the south-west coast, where an estimated 100,000 pairs nest.  Deception Island has a sparse but exceptional flora, including at least 18 species of moss or lichen which have not been recorded elsewhere in the Antarctic, 2 of which are endemic. No other area in Antarctica is comparable.  

Today, Argentina and Spain operate scientific stations on the island during the austral summer. Base Decepcion ( Argentina ) and Cabriel de Castilla Station ( Spain ) are located on the Southwestern shore of Port Foster . Science at Deception Island focuses principally upon volcanic monitoring and marine benthic studies