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Exploring Antarctica's Active Volcano Mt. Erebus

Episode 9: What’s covered in ice, soars 12,500 feet, and sometimes features a bubbling lava lake in its crater? Mount Erebus, of course.

Premiered: Runtime: 7:28Topic: Planet EarthPlanet EarthNova
Premiered on PBS

Antarctica is an otherworldly land of extremes. But perhaps nothing there is as extreme as Mount Erebus, one of Antarctica’s two active volcanoes and the southernmost active volcano on Earth. Conveniently, Erebus’ summit is a mere 25 miles from McMurdo Station, Antarctica’s largest research base.

Hosts Caitlin Saks and Arlo Pérez join Jessie Crain, a National Science Foundation Antarctic research support manager, on an exhilarating helicopter trip from McMurdo to Erebus’ summit and then land on its flanks. At altitude in -30° F conditions, they embark on foot and see firsthand how breathtaking (literally) Erebus is—and why an active volcano in a land of ice is a scientific wonder. Together, Caitlin and Arlo discover Dr. Suess-like ice towers (gas-emitting fumaroles), learn how Erebus came to be, and how it’s a window into Earth’s climatic past. And they (Arlo especially) experience the challenges and dangers that researchers face while working at Antarctica’s most epic extreme.

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Major funding for NOVA is provided by the David H. Koch Fund for Science, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers. Additional funding is provided by the NOVA Science Trust.

Major funding for this project is provided by the National Science Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Heising-Simons Foundation, The Kendeda Fund, the George D. Smith Fund, and the Richard Saltonstall Charitable Foundation.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1713552. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Footage of seals was obtained under the authority of NMFS MMPA permit nos.1032-1917, 17236, & 21158