South Asia is a geographical region that encompasses territory occupied by eight Asian countries. The entire region covers an area of about 2,015,875 square miles. There are several unique geographical features located in South Asia such as deserts, glaciers, and valleys. One of the unique features in South Asia is the Barren Island volcano which is the region's only active volcano. The volcano is located in Barren Island, a 3.22 square mile island which is part of India's territory.
Barren Island covers an area of 3.22 square miles and has a coastline of 7.7 miles. It is one of the Andaman Islands located in the Andaman Sea. The island is uninhabited. A small goat population is found on the island, as are birds, bats, and rats. The Barren volcano is the most dominant feature on the island. The island has a caldera which is approximately 1.24 miles wide which was formed after a significant explosive eruption that occurred during the late Pleistocene era.
Historical Eruptions of the Barren Island Volcano
The Barren Island volcano's first eruption in recorded history took place in 1787. Two years later, in 1789, the Barren Island volcano erupted once again. The volcano erupted again in 1795, 1803, and 1852. After the eruption of 1852, the volcano remained dormant for almost one and a half centuries.
Recent Eruptions of the Barren Island Volcano
The 1991 Eruption
The dormancy of the Barren Island volcano ended in 1991 when it erupted for about six months. The eruption of 1991 was considered fairly destructive to the island's fauna. The Indian government sent members of the Geological Survey of India to assess the impact of the volcano's eruption. The team prepared a report detailing the effects of the eruption on local animal species. The island's birds were the most affected species as their number declined after the eruption. The research team observed only six species of birds out of the 16 that lived on the island. The team also observed one rat species and about 50 insect species. At the time, the researchers were collecting the data as gas was still coming out from the volcano.
The 1994-1995 Eruption
Another major eruption of the Barren Island volcano began in December 1994 and lasted until July 1995. In January 1995, it was reported that a strombolian eruption had occurred and lava had flowed for about 0.93 miles from the volcano to the sea. In March 1995, a phreatomagmatic eruption took place, and large clouds of steam were released. A 492-foot long fire fountain was seen rising from the central vent in May 1995.
The 2005-2010 Eruptions
The eruption of the Barren Island volcano in 2005 was linked to the 2004 Sumatra earthquake. In 2005, an ash cloud erupted from one of the volcano's vents followed by lava. From 2005 to 2008, ash clouds erupted from the volcano. From January to March 2009, Strombolian eruptions occurred at the volcano. In January 2010, a 0.93-mile ash cloud was emitted from the volcano.
The 2013 Eruption
Another major eruption took place in 2013 when a 20,000-foot ash cloud was ejected from the volcano. The ash cloud extended for more than 100 nautical miles in the southwest.
The Economic Significance of the Barren Island Volcano
The Barren Island Volcano is economically significant because it attracts tourists. Tourists are also drawn to the area by the crystal clear waters which are popular with scuba divers.