Although not definitive, this natural-color satellite image also suggests an ongoing eruption. The dark summit crater—much darker than Mawson’s shaded southwestern face—is at least partially snow-free. There is also a faint hint of an even darker area—perhaps a lava flow—within. Shortwave infrared data shows hot surfaces within the crater, indicating the presence of lava in or just beneath the crater. Heavy cloud cover camouflaged what may have been a plume that erupted less than an hour after the image above was captured.
Because the volcano is located on the inaccessible Heard Island, 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) north of Antarctica and 2,700 kilometers (1,700 miles) southeast of Africa, satellites are the primary means of monitoring Mawson Peak. This image was acquired on October 13, 2012 by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) aboard the Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite.