NATIONAL

Coast Guard's encounter with a volcano

SCIENTIFIC MISSION: A team from the Coast Guard vessel, CG SAGAR, heading towards the volcano on the Barren Island to collect lava samples on Thursday. — Photo: V. Ganesan

SCIENTIFIC MISSION: A team from the Coast Guard vessel, CG SAGAR, heading towards the volcano on the Barren Island to collect lava samples on Thursday. — Photo: V. Ganesan  

S. Dorairaj

PORT BLAIR: Volcano adventure is a unique tourist attraction in some countries.

But it is yet to catch up in India, where the only live volcano on the Barren Island in the

Andamans has become active after a decade. It has been spewing lava and shooting up red-hot flames since May 27.

Teams of the Indian Coast Guard vessel, CG Sagar, under the stewardship of the Commanding Officer and Deputy Inspector General, K.R. Nautiyal, had a close encounter with the volcano on Thursday.

Undeterred by the eruption of lava and the fireballs from the crater every few seconds, a Coast Guard helicopter hovered close to the volcano, even as another team steered an inflated raft towards the 354-metre high uninhabited island to collect samples of the lava flowing into the rough sea.

Commandant D.R. Sharma said their venture was part of the Coast Guard's "peacetime duties": collection of scientific data.

Samples for scientists

Showing lava samples to visiting mediapersons, he said these would be handed over to scientists for research to solve the riddles of the volcano.

The one on the Barren Island is known as the only active volcano along the North-South trending volcanic arc between Sumatra and Myanmar.

Records show that the volcano for the first time emitted lava and smoke in 1787 and erupted twice in the recent past, in 1991 and 1994.

Barring a few feral goats, there are no animals on the Barren Island. But vegetation along the path of the lava has become a casualty.

The sudden eruption may be an after-effect of the December 26, 2004 tsunami, as predicted by the Geological Survey of India, say experts.

How long it will remain active is not known.

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