Nestled within Antarctica's South Shetland archipelago, the remote Deception Island is considered to be the largest active volcano in the Antarctic Peninsula.
The entire island was forged during a massive volcanic eruption which gave it its trademark horseshoe shape — an explosive event so powerful that it caused the volcano to collapse onto itself and ended up carving a five-mile-wide depression in the center of the island.
Once the caldera filled with ocean water, Deception Island became the enigmatic landscape we know today — "a horseshoe-shaped ring of rock surrounding a flooded bowl," as Forbes describes it. While volcanologists have known for quite some time about the island's violent beginnings, the timeline of this cataclysmic eruption had largely remained a puzzle — that is, until now.
Previous estimations placed the volcanic eruption sometime around 10,000 years ago, as shown in this report by National Geographic. However, the estimated time window of this calamitous event ranged from the Late Pleistocene some 126,000 years ago until very recently in our planet's history — just a few thousand years before present times.
The mystery has finally been put to rest by a team of climatologists, reports Phys.org. In a study published last week in the journal Scientific Reports, the team argues that the massive volcano eruption which shaped Deception Island occurred 3,980 years ago — give or take a century.