Microscopic Millions: Mount Erebus Emits $6,000 Worth of Gold Dust Every Day

By: | April 24th, 2024

Mount Erebus, a formidable peak in the heart of Antarctica, holds a surprising secret. This active volcano, crowned with glaciers and spewing plumes of steam, isn’t just belching smoke and ash – it’s also releasing tiny particles of gold!

Studies suggest that Mount Erebus emits around 80 grams of gold dust every day, carried aloft in volcanic gases. This microscopic gold, worth roughly $6,000, may seem like a treasure trove waiting to be plundered. But before you start booking your Antarctic expedition, here’s some reality to consider:

Microscopic Windfall: The gold particles are incredibly small, no bigger than 20 micrometers – that’s about the width of a human hair! Sifting through volcanic ash for this microscopic bounty would be like searching for a needle in a haystack.

Nature’s Vault: This volcano resides in a remote corner of Antarctica, a continent bound by international treaties focused on scientific research and environmental protection. Extracting resources for personal gain is a big no-no.

A Colder Kind of Rush: Antarctica is a land of extremes. Frigid temperatures, ferocious winds, and unforgiving terrain make it one of the most challenging environments on Earth. Even with top-notch gear, venturing onto the continent is an undertaking for experienced polar explorers.

So, while Mount Erebus’ gold dust may spark dreams of riches, the real value lies in the volcano itself. Scientists studying these microscopic gold particles gain insights into the Earth’s mantle composition and volcanic processes. Mount Erebus remains a scientific treasure chest, offering valuable knowledge for generations to come.

Image credits: NASA.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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