Welcome inside the caldera of an active volcano! Visiting Deception Island (wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deception_Island) had been top of my wishlist, and there I found myself wrapped into all my layers and an additional overall on a geological cruise on a polarcircle boat. Expertly guided by Steffen from the Expedition team, we drove through wind and snow to see what there was to be seen. The mountains looked as if they had been part of a watercolour painting.
Deception Island has the shape of a doughnut with a small opening on one side, called Neptune’s Bellows. This is where ships get into what is seen as safest harbour in Antarctica. Apart from the fact, that the volcano underneath is due to erupt soon. The seabed inside the caldera is apparently rising, the water tourists used to take a dip in too scolding hot. And we found some fumaroles, guarded by a lone Gentoo penguin.
In some places, hyaloclastite has formed.
During our tour, fog and snow got heavier, my feet got colder (in spite of my wearing the fabulous rubberboots) and by the time we reached the youngest craters on the rim and could have admired some fine layers of ash from different recent and older eruptions, all I wanted was a cup of hot chocolate and warm feet. The couple opposite me looked exactly how I felt. Then from somewhere a kind of snowball was blown against my nose. They confirmed, yes this has just happened. I love geology, and Steffen did a marvellous job, but icy cold feet, and the muscle pain from the kayaking … I felt more like crying at that point.
This was perfect timing for three Humpback whales to come out of the water right in front of us. They were headed for Neptune’s Bellows. I was so grateful, because the narrowness of the exit meant we would leave them to it and not go out there too, as originally planned. Before the whales followed this plan, however, they decided to come a bit closer, say hello to the ship, and then swim out into the open ocean again. Who cares about cold feet when you can have an active volcano and Humpbacks together?!