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International Space Station Imagery
Mawson Peak, Heard Island
high res (0.8 M) low res (79 K)
ISS018-E-038182 (28 Feb. 2009) --- Mawson Peak, Heard Island is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 18 crewmember on the International Space Station. Heard Island is located in the southern Indian Ocean, approximately 1,550 kilometers to the north of Antarctica. The island is a visible part of the Kerguelen Plateau, a submerged feature on the seafloor formed by large amounts of volcanic rock erupted over a geologically short time period within an oceanic tectonic plate -- features like these are termed large igneous provinces by geologists. Most of Heard Island is formed from volcanic rocks associated with the Big Ben stratovolcano. The northeastern slopes of the volcano are visible in shadow at the top left of this detailed astronaut photograph. Recent observed volcanic activity at Heard Island has occurred at 2,745 meters high Mawson Peak, which sits within a breached caldera (collapsed and empty magma chamber beneath a volcano) on the southwestern side of the Big Ben volcano -- the shadow cast by Mawson Peak in the image points directly to the crescent-shaped caldera rim. Detailed geologic study of the Big Ben volcano is made difficult by the presence of several glaciers, including Gotley and Lied Glaciers on the southwestern slopes. This image, taken during Southern Hemisphere summer, also reveals some of the non-glaciated, light to dark brown volcanic rock forming the island on either side of Gotley Glacier.

Curator: JSC PAO Web Team | Responsible NASA Official: Amiko Kauderer | Updated: 10/30/2012
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