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Gallery: Erebus Volcano's Amazing Lava Lake

Majestic mountain

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(Image credit: Julien Chaput.)

Despite the deadly climate, everything from earthquake monitors to infrared cameras perch on Erebus volcano year-round. Scientists avidly study the Erebus and its lava lake in hopes of unraveling the mysteries of how volcanoes work.

Erebus from above

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(Image credit: Nick Powell National Science Foundation.)

The summit of Mount Erebus, the southernmost active volcano on the planet.

Volcanic heart

Erebus lava lake

(Image credit: Clive Oppenheimer)

This view of Erebus volcano's lava lake was snapped in 2012, when the lake was about 100 feet (30 meters) wide.

Looking for clues

Erebus volcano

(Image credit: Tehnuka Ilanko)

An infrared camera installed during the Antarctic summer field season and left to overwinter on the crater rim.

After winter

Erebus volcano

(Image credit: Nial Peters)

Harsh winter weather broke the camera's power cable and bent the stainless steel tripod mounts. The camera restarted when power was restored.

Erebus erupts in infrared

Erebus volcano

(Image credit: Tehnuka Ilanko)

A thermal camera image of an eruption in Erebus volcano's lava lake. Erebus erupts when gas bubbles burst inside its lava lake, flinging lava out onto the crater and surrounding regions.

Powering up

Erebus volcano

(Image credit: Nial Peters)

Spooling the new power cable out from the crater rim. Researchers ended up using 8 of these drums to get from the crater down where the batteries and solar panels are. Each drum weighed 95 pounds (43 kilograms).

Watching Erebus breathe

Erebus volcano

(Image credit: Nial Peters)

A portable spectrometer measures sulfur dioxide emitted by Erebus volcano.

High-altitude antenna

Erebus volcano

(Image credit: Tehnuka Ilanko)

A microwave antenna sends data from instruments on the crater rim to a hut built at lower elevation, where researchers hunker down in the harsh climate.

Frozen fumaroles

Erebus volcano

(Image credit: Tehnuka Ilanko)

Ice Tower Ridge on the western side of Erebus volcano. Hot gas escaping through fissures on the volcano's slopes spew steam into the air, which then freezes into towers called fumaroles.

Erebus ice tower

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(Image credit: Mount Erebus Volcano Observatory, NM Tech)

Volcanologist Phillip Kyle standing in front of an ice tower called "Harry's Dream."