back to article Australian volcano starts to blow

One of Australia's two active volcanoes seems to be erupting. We say seems because the volcano in question, on Heard Island, is located in the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean, 2000km north of Antarctica and closer to Africa than to Australia. That's about as close to the middle of nowhere as it is possible to be. Heard …


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  1. Oninoshiko

    why does this island have a web page

    I mean if the last news item on said page is two decades old, does it really need one?

    Although I do admit, I like .aq

    1. Ole Juul

      Re: why does this island have a web page

      Would you prefer a Facebook page with bryophytes bragging about the success of their colony and insulting low income lichens?

      1. Nick G

        Re: why does this island have a web page

        "Would you prefer a Facebook page with bryophytes bragging about the success of their colony and insulting low income lichens?"

        More likely to be endless pictures of Cats & dinners...

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: why does this island have a web page

      Time to grab while you can

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Such a miserable place

      That even visiting seals don't breed there.

    4. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: why does this island have a web page

      Rockall used to have a web page, and it used to be rather good. El Reg still own the domain, but they don't seem to be doing anything with it.

  2. Martin Huizing

    Middle of nowhere?

    Africa: MY volcano!

    Australia: MY volcano!

    Japan: Bitches, please...

  3. Esskay

    "Australian" volcano

    Seemingly in the same was that Russell Crowe is "Australian"... I'm sure we would have been happy for Africa to have it right up until it started doing something interesting, then it's "Aussie".

    Although the eruption seems somewhat less violent than one of Russell's.

    1. stuartnz

      Re: "Australian" volcano

      This Kiwi says Russell Crowe is DEFINITELY Aussie - along with Joh-Bjelke Petersen (showing my age there) and Derryn Hinch. John Clark on the other hand, is a true Trans-Tasman icon, happy to let you share him since your guy Dawe makes a good team with him. Also, if you want volcanoes (or mountains bigger than fleabites), come over this side of the ditch, we've got plenty.

  4. Nigel 11

    Don't tempt fate

    Heard Island's remote location means any eruptions are unlikely to bother anyone

    You hope (assuming that the island has not been the subject of the same sort of detailed study by vulcanologists that, say, mount Vesuvius has been)

    Some volcanoes go with a very big bang. The fallout can have regional or even global consequences. Krakatoa. Katla. Tambora.

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: Don't tempt fate

      Quite right, don't forget Taupo:

      One of the few events in New Zealand that anyone overseas actually noticed.

    2. Martin Budden Silver badge

      Re: Don't tempt fate

      Well, unless it does go with a very big bang, it's still Unheard Island.

      1. Shane 4
        Thumb Up

        Re: Don't tempt fate

        Don't need your coat for that one. ;) +1

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "detailed study by vulcanologists"

      Isn't a vulcanologist someone who studies Spock and his kind?

    4. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: Don't tempt fate

      Sorry to be the bringer of bad news - it's not going to go bang, it's the wrong sort of volcano.

      You're looking for andesitic and rhyolitic volcanoes found in continental interiors and on island arcs. Basically you want lots of silica to make the magma sticky and lots of water and carbon dioxide to provide the 'umph!'

      Unfortunately, Heard Island is fed by the Kerguelen hotspot which brings very low silica, volatile poor magma from deep inside the Mantle. The volcanoes in the hot spot are basaltic, producing lava flows, very little ash and even the occasional lava lake - something like Hawaii - but with penguins.

    5. Tom 13

      Re: Don't tempt fate

      I'd say given the fact that it is already believed to be erupting the statement is more true than your rebuttal. As I recall, none of the events associated with those volcanoes was associated with an active lava eruption. They were instances in which the relatively quieter lava eruptions weren't possible and the pressure simply continued to build until there was an Earth Shattering Kamboom.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Don't tempt fate

        I believe that at Krakatoa, what happened wasn't much dependant on the lava type. The ocean got into a (half-?) empty magma reservoir, and the result was possibly the biggest steam explosion that humanity has ever seen. (Unless Santorini was bigger).

        True, if it's the highly fluid lava they get on Hawaii, the chances of the ocean finding its way into a large empy magma chamber are lessened.

        Katla also isn't particularly explosive. Just high enough in toxic fluorides to poison cattle in Ireland, and acid enough to cause severe respiratory distress in London. It also upsets the climate, though not as badly as Tambora did. EjaFyallawhatever was a small forewarning of what's long overdue from Katla.

    6. garbo

      Re: Don't tempt fate

      Why omit Toba, some 75,000 yrs ago, which reduced Homo Sapiens to a miserable few thousands and carpeted the Indian sub-continent with a few meters of ash?

      Still , the blast did make a beautiful lake, where I swam naked in the moonlight back in my hippie days...

      And the gourmet delights of Ati Anjing at the Pago-Pago cafe! Apologies to canine readers.

      Ah, the good ol' days.


  5. Michael MacAskill

    Odd choice of domain name

    Strange that they use .aq for that website, as the Heard and McDonald Islands have their very own TLD:

    and there isn't much under it except for a few tumbleweeds.

    1. Martin Budden Silver badge

      Re: Odd choice of domain name

      You are right, that is odd.

      .aq is the Antarctic TLD, so the Reg article got that bit wrong.

  6. Martin Budden Silver badge


    The highest point on Heard Island (Mawson Peak, the snow-covered volcanic cone clearly visible in the photograph) is the highest point in all Australia. On the mainland Mount Kosciuszko is 517m lower.

  7. Martin Budden Silver badge

    A new vent?

    Have a look at this map: it seems to me that the ash plume is originating in the sea near Elephant Spit, right where the blue words "Spit Bay" are on the map. This would mean a new vent. Am I looking at it wrong?

    1. David Neil

      Re: A new vent?

      Are you referring to the band stretching up the picture to the right of centre? That looks more like a cloud formation than an ash plume.

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: A new vent?

      'This would mean a new vent. Am I looking at it wrong?'

      I can't tell either. But it's not impossible - almost all volcanoes have parasitic cones and fissures low on their flanks - the pressure of pushing a column of magma into the vent is often greater than that required to open a vent on the side.

  8. Winkypop Silver badge

    If the volcano explodes and no one is there...

    Will it be Heard?

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: If the volcano explodes and no one is there...

      Might be Heard, not seen.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "One of Australia's two active volcanoes seems to be erupting."

    The other erupted all over Tony Abbott very recently.

  10. Manolo

    Not closer to Africa

    In contrast to what the article points out, the website mentions:

    "Heard Island is about 4,100 kilometres south west of Perth in Western Australia. The McDonald Islands are about 43 km further west. That puts them in the middle of the vast Southern Ocean, about 1000 kilometres north of the Antarctic continent and still about 4,700 kilometres from South Africa to the north west."

  11. Katie Saucey

    "Don't worry: only penguins are in danger as it's in the middle of nowhere"

    MS win8 first assault on the pengin! Duck and cover!

  12. Parax

    Won't somebody think of the penguins.

    see icon.

  13. Radon

    You're all wrong

    Didn't you all know these islands are just Australia's nuclear test sites? One for nukes, the other for nuclear reactors. I guess if both are blowing smoke......

  14. AndrueC Silver badge

    > That's about as close to the middle of nowhere as it is possible to be.

    But I bet you can still find someone who wants BT to provide fibre broadband there at £5 a month.

  15. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Surely Osama Bin Laden would have something to say, were he alive today, about .aq being awarded to Antarctica by the infidels at ICANN.

  16. Evil Auditor

    "'s in the middle of nowhere"

    You already said that when mentioning Australia.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: "'s in the middle of nowhere"

      I thought that the official middle of nowhere was more or less the corresponding location in the South Pacific, marked by a lack of islands and any other reason to be there. It's also not even on the way to anywhere much.

      Rumour has it that the middle of nowhere is the default target for the major nuclear powers' missiles, so that should one ever get armed and launched by mistake, as little harm as possible is done. (Unless you are a blue whale, of course. )

  17. Purlieu

    It can't be McDonald island

    ..... there's totally no sign of a golden arch in the photo

  18. BoldMan
    Big Brother

    Sorry, this isn't an erupting volcano its my minions hollowing it out for my new secret base!!


    oh bugger its not so secret anymore...

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