LONDON - Satellite pictures confirm there is a persistent lava lake inside the crater of a remote British Overseas Territory (BOT) volcano.

Few enduring lava lakes are known globally; the one at Mount Michael on Saunders Island in the South Atlantic may be only the eighth such example. The 990m-high stratovolcano’s setting makes it extremely difficult to climb.

Pictures taken from space are really therefore the only way of looking inside the opening at the summit.

Orbiting sensors from as far back as the 1990s have detected heat anomalies in the crater. But it has taken the most modern satellites to resolve the crater floor, and to verify the presence of the lake.

Scientists from University College London (UCL) and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) assessed data from 2003 to 2018. his information indicates a continuous molten lava feature that is between 90m and 215m wide, with a temperature of around 1,000C.

There are some 1,500 active volcanoes on the Earth’s land surface but it is extremely rare for them to maintain a broiling liquid mass in their craters.

Saunders Island is part of the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands British Overseas Territory.

“The island has been visited on numerous occasions, but no-one has ever climbed the mountain,” commented Dr Peter Fretwell from BAS.

“If you look at the imagery you can see why: the peak is surrounded by a huge snow-mushroom, extremely soft snow with an icing sugar like consistency, probably caused by the continual venting of steam by the volcano.