an active volcano in the
South Shetland Islands
, off the
. 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
’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
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
. 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.
is the only geothermal lagoon in the Antarctic.
The climate of
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.
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
operate scientific stations on the island during
the austral summer. Base Decepcion (
) and Cabriel de Castilla Station (
) are located on the Southwestern
. Science at
focuses principally upon volcanic monitoring and
marine benthic studies