Barren Island, in the Andaman Islands, India, spews smoke and ash into the air in January 2014
Barren Island, in the Andaman Islands, India, spews smoke and ash into the air in January 2014 Arijay Prasad

India's only active volcano is erupting once again. The Barren Island volcano, located about 140km northeast of Port Blair, in the in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, started erupting in 1991 after a dormant phase of over 150 years. It has shown intermittent activity since then.

"A team of scientists led by Dr. Abhay Mudholkar, from CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography (CSIR-NIO), Goa, reported that the volcano is active and spewing smoke and lava once again. On the afternoon of 23 January 2017, the scientific team on board CSIR-NIO's research ship RV Sindhu Sankalp were busy collecting seafloor samples in the Andaman Basin near the Barren volcano when it suddenly started spewing ash.", the statement released on late Friday from the Goa-based NIO states.

According to the release, upon witnessing the volcanic activity, the team moved about one mile from the volcano and began closely observing it. The team observed that the volcano was erupting in small episodes lasting about 5 to 10 minutes. Though during the daytime only ash clouds were observed, after sunset, the team saw that the red lava fountains were spewing from the crater into the atmosphere. They also witnessed hot lava flowing on the slopes of the volcano. However, scientists say that the volcanic activity is too small to majorly affect weather patterns.

Ever since the team has witnessed the continuation of spurts of blasts and smoke. During the period of observation, the researchers have sampled the sediments and water in the vicinity of the volcano and recovered coal-like black pyroclastic material representing proximal volcanic ejecta.

"These samples will help in deciphering the nature of the present and past volcanic activity in the region. Landing on the volcanic island was not attempted as it was too dangerous", the report added.

It is noteworthy that the Andaman Basin is an active back-arc spreading basin and is known for its strong seismicity, many submarine volcanoes, and hydrothermal activity. The volcanoes were formed due to the rising magma formed deep in the mantle due to the melting of the subducted Indian Ocean crust.

The volcanic island is uninhabited and the northern part of the island is, as the name suggests, barren and devoid of vegetation. Private citizens of India can visit the volcanic island by chartered boats after obtaining the permission of the Forest Department in Port Blair.