World’s Southernmost Active Volcano Spews $6,000 Worth of Gold Per Day


Did you know that Mount Erebus, the world’s southernmost active volcano, emits a continuous plume of gas and steam loaded with tiny crystals of metallic gold said to be worth about $6,000 per day, or $2.2 million per year?

But before you book your tickets to Antarctica’s Ross Island to capture your share of the glittery fortune, understand that the precious particles spewing from the volcano are no larger than 20 micrometers (.02 mm) and are scattered up to 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) from the site. What’s more, the picturesque place is barely inhabitable, with today’s high temperature expected to reach a bone chilling -48°F.

According to a recent report in IFL Science, Mount Erebus is not only the southernmost active volcano, but also the tallest active volcano in Antarctica at 12,448 feet.

Legend states that when British explorer Captain Sir James Clark Ross first viewed the peak in 1841, it was in the midst of a violent eruption. Mount Erebus is named for the primordial god of darkness in Greek mythology. “HMS Erebus” was also the name of one of the captain’s ships.

Today, an aerial view of the peak shows an active lake of red-hot lava. The vast majority of Antarctica’s 138 volcanoes are dormant, but eight or nine are still considered active, with Mount Erebus topping the list.

The gold-spewing volcano is also known for randomly launching “volcanic bombs,” which are boulders of partially molten rock.

Mount Erebus was the site of one of the most devastating airline disasters. In 1979, an Air New Zealand flight crashed into the side of the volcano, killing all 257 people on board. The 11-hour round-trip sightseeing adventure from Auckland to Antarctica was meant to give tourists a close-up look at the active volcano. Investigators assumed that the pilot may have experienced a “whiteout” condition where he couldn’t distinguish the ice-cake ground from the overcast sky and the ice-covered volcano.

Credits: Mount Erebus photo by NASA/Jim Yungel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Aerial view of Mount Erebus by Pierre Markuse from Hamm, Germany, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Map by USGS, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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