India's Lone Volcano Active Again, Spews Lava, Black Smoke

Feb 22, 2017 10:13 AM EST

The only live volcano in India has become active once again, spewing lava and black smoke, after being dormant for more than a decade.

According to the report from CNN, Indian scientists saw the Barren Island volcano spewing lava and billowing clouds of black smoke. Located on an uninhabited island at the eastern coast of India, the Barren Island volcano's last eruption was in 2005.

"The volcano was erupting in small episodes lasting about 5 to 10 minutes. During the daytime only ash clouds were observed," India's National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) wrote in a statement. "However after sundown, the team observed red lava fountains spewing from the crater into the atmosphere and hot lava flows streaming down the slopes of the volcano."

The activity in Barren Island volcano was first observed on the afternoon of Jan. 23, 2017. While researchers aboard the research ship RV Sindhu Sankalp were busy collecting seafloor samples near the island, the volcano started spewing ash.

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The scientific team revisited the volcano in the early hours of Jan. 26, 2017. During this time, the researchers witnessed the continuation of blasts and smoke. In addition to the sediment and water samples collected in the area, the researchers also recovered coal-like black pyroclastic material that most likely came from the volcano. The researchers did not attempt to set foot on the island in both visits because it was deemed to be too dangerous.

The Barren Island volcano is the only live volcano in India. Its last major eruption occurred in 1991, after being dormant for 150 years. Since then, it has shown intermittent activity, including eruption in 1995 and 2005. The volcano is located in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. As the name implies, the northern part of the island is barren and has no vegetation.

The volcanic island is open for private citizens of India. It can be reached by chartered boats. However, those who are planning to visit the Barren Island volcano need to obtain permission from the Forest Department in Port Blair.

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