Barren Island (Andaman Islands)

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Barren Island erupts
Barren Island
Ile Barren, 1995.jpg
Barren Island erupting in 1995
Highest point
Elevation 354 m (1,161 ft)
Coordinates 12°16′40″N 93°51′30″E / 12.27778°N 93.85833°E / 12.27778; 93.85833Coordinates: 12°16′40″N 93°51′30″E / 12.27778°N 93.85833°E / 12.27778; 93.85833
Location Andaman Islands, India
Mountain type Stratovolcano with pyroclastic cones
Last eruption 2013 to 2015 (ongoing)

Barren Island is located in the Andaman Sea, one of the most easterly islands in the Andaman Islands chain. It is the only confirmed active volcano in South Asia. Along with the rest of the Andamans, it is a part of the Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and lies about 135 km (84 mi) northeast of the territory's capital, Port Blair. 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 which started in September 2010 and continued through January 2011.[1]

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. There were eruptions in 1994–95 and 2005–07, the latter considered to be linked to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.[2]

Location & History of Volcanism[edit]

Outline map of the Andaman Islands, with the location of Barren Island highlighted (red circle)

This volcanic island stands in the midst of a volcanic belt on the edge of the Indian and Burmese tectonic plates. Narcondum is a dormant volcano in the area, apart from volcanic seamounts like Alcock and Sewell.

Topography of the island

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 as caldera wall), with a break towards the west. The highest elevation on the island is 354 m (1,161 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 10 km2 (3.9 sq mi).[3]

True to its name, it is a barren area 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.[4]

Based on Ar-Ar dating of samples from Barren Island it is now established that the oldest subaerial lava flows of the volcano is 1.6 million year old and the volcano is located on an oceanic crust which is ~106 million year old (Ray et al., Bull Volcanol 77: 57, 2015)

Scuba diving[edit]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Barren Island". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. 
  2. ^ Jørgen S. Aabech. "Barren Island, Andaman Islands, Indian Ocean". Retrieved June 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. ^ "Barren Island Volcano, Indian Ocean - facts & information". Retrieved June 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ "Scientific Expedition to Barren Island (Andaman Islands, Indian Ocean)". 2003. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved June 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)

External links[edit]