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Barren Island
Geography
Location Bay of Bengal
Archipelago Andaman Islands
Adjacent bodies of water Indian Ocean
Total islands 1
Major islands
  • Barren Island
Area 8.34 km2 (3.22 sq mi)
Length 3.4 km (2.11 mi)
Width 3.1 km (1.93 mi)
Coastline 12.38 km (7.693 mi)
Highest elevation 353 m (1,158 ft)
Administration
District North and Middle Andaman
Island group Andaman Islands
Island sub-group East Volcano Islands
Taluk Rangat Taluk
Demographics
Population 0 (2017)
Pop. density 0.00 /km2 (0 /sq mi)
Additional information
Time zone
  • IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 744202
Telephone code 031927
ISO code IN-AN-00
Avg. summer temperature 30.2 °C (86.4 °F)
Avg. winter temperature 23.0 °C (73.4 °F)
Census Code 35.639.0004
Barren Island 1789
An illustration of the island in 1789
Barren Volcano
Ile Barren, 1995.jpg
Barren Island erupting in 1995
Geography
Location Andaman Islands, India
Geology
Mountain type Stratovolcano with pyroclastic cones
Last eruption 2019

Barren Island is an island located in the Andaman Sea. It is the only confirmed active volcano in South Asia, and the only active volcano along a chain of volcanoes from Sumatra to Myanmar. It is a part of the Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and lies about 138 km (86 mi) northeast of the territory's capital, Port Blair.

History

The first recorded eruption of the volcano dates back to 1787. Since then, the volcano has erupted more than ten times, with the most recent one being in 2017. After the first recorded eruption in 1787, further eruptions were recorded in 1789, 1795, 1803–04, and 1852. After nearly one and half century of dormancy, the island had another eruption in 1991 that lasted six months and caused considerable damage.

The 1991 eruption was particularly harmful to the island's fauna. A team from the Geological Survey of India visited Barren Island on 8–9 April 1993 to assess the impact of the eruption on the distribution, habit, and abundance of animal species. The report found that the eruption had reduced the number of bird species and their population. The team only observed 6 of the 16 known species of birds on the island. The Pied Imperial Pigeon (Ducula bicolor) was the most abundant among the 6 species observed. In a survey conducted at night, the team spotted one rat species (Rattus rattus) and 51 species of insects from eight orders. The report also noted that the volcano was still emitting gas at the time. There were eruptions in 1994–95 and 2005–07, the latter considered to be linked to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. A lighthouse that was established in 1993 was destroyed by the recent eruptions.

A team from the National Institute of Oceanography spotted the volcano erupting on 23 January 2017. Abhay Mudholkar, the head of the team, said, "The volcano is erupting in small episodes of about five to ten minutes. During the day, only ash clouds were observed. However, after sundown, red lava fountains were spewing from the crater into the atmosphere and hot lava flowed streaming down its slopes."

Based on Argon-argon dating of samples from Barren Island it is now established that the oldest subaerial lava flows of the volcano are 1.6 million years old and the volcano is located on an oceanic crust which is roughly 106 million years old. All recorded eruptions lie on the low end of the Volcanic Explosivity Index. The 2017 eruption was recorded as a 2 on the index.

Geography

This volcanic island stands in the midst of a volcanic belt on the edge of the Indian and Burmese tectonic plates. Narcondam Island is a dormant volcano in the area, apart from volcanic seamounts like Alcock and Sewell. All the historical and recent eruptions (1789 and after) are confined within and around an active polygenetic cinder cone in a 2 km (1.2 mi) wide caldera that was formed by the Pleistocene collapse of a primitive cone of a stratovolcano. The remnant of the primitive volcanic cone forms a precipitous cliff around the island (commonly referred to as caldera wall), with a break towards the west. The highest elevation on the island is 353 m (1,158 ft), with most of the primitive volcano underwater (standing on the seafloor 2,250 metres (7,380 ft) below sea level). The island is 3 km (1.9 mi) in diameter, with a total surface area of 8.34 km2 (3.22 sq mi).

Biodiversity

True to its name, it has large areas of barren landscape. It is uninhabited by humans, though it has a small population of goats. Also birds, bats like flying foxes and a few rodent species such as rats are known to survive the harsh conditions.

Tourist Attractions

The waters surrounding Barren Island are reputed to be among the world's top scuba diving destinations. Major attractions here are the crystal clear visibility, Manta Rays, interesting basalt formations, topography of past lava flows and fast growing coral gardens. This dive destination is remote but can be accessed by either a live aboard ship or with scuba-operators based at Havelock Island.

Administration

It belongs to the North and Middle Andaman administrative district, part of the Indian union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Demographics

The island is uninhabited.

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