Virtual Volcano Vacation #28 “Yes or no” rules…WINNER! – Ascension

Barren volcanic landscape as seen from Green Mountain - Photo by Jon Davidson (University of Durham) - Image originally posted at GVP

Barren volcanic landscape as seen from Green Mountain – Photo by Jon Davidson (University of Durham) – Image originally posted at GVP

Congratulations Leslie! I tried to hide in the volcanic version of the middle of nowhere but you found me anyway. I am virtually on Ascension island..which is actually just the subaerial summit of a large stratovolcano that is also called Ascension.

This little island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic was actually discovered on Ascension Day in 1501 by Galician explorer Juan de Nova, who was sailing for the Portuguese crown. Being a dry and seemingly barren place, the Portuguese never claimed it, so the island served the next few centuries as a stop-over for mariners to hunt fresh sea fowl or harvest from the goat herd that the Portuguese had introduced to the island. It wasn’t until 1815 that the British staked out their claim on the island in order to put a small garrison there as a precaution during Napoleon’s exile on Saint Helena to the southeast. His Majesty’s Navy dubbed the island a “Stone Frigate”  The island was also visited by Charles Darwin on the Beagle Voyage and a few years later by botanist Joseph Hooker who initiated an aggressive program of introducing trees to the ecosystem to help preserve and improve the soil. The legacy of this endeavor is the lush forested summit of Green Mountain, the island’s highest point.

Green Mountain rises above the barren volcanic landscape. Image originally posted at Confluence.org

Green Mountain rises above the barren volcanic landscape. Image originally posted at Confluence.org

Just at the close of the 19th century, the Eastern Telegraph company set up on the island and via underwater cables bridged communication between the UK and British colonies in South Africa. Early in World War 2 the US set up an air base from which they could patrol for submarines. After a short period of disuse and neglect, the US took new interest in the airfield during the Cold War. The runway was improved and made ready for larger craft and for a time was considered an alternate emergency landing site for the Space Shuttle. The air field was used by the British (after rmuch obstruction from the American government) during the Falklands war NASA had a tracking station at Ascension until the 1990s, and today the ESA has an Ariane monitoring facility in operation there. There has only recently been tourism to Ascension, mostly for game fishing and what is alleged to be the world’s worst golf course. Apparently there is not much love for the volcano as a holiday hotspot…at least not yet.

The Georgetown golf course..the "worst in the world". Image originally posted at Heritage.org

The Georgetown golf course..the “worst in the world”. Image originally posted at Heritage.org

The volcano’s history is not nearly as colourful as the island’s itself. It has not shown any activity since its discovery, but the physical appearance of the hundreds of parasitic cones and domes that dot the island would suggest that it has erupted recently..geologically speaking. That and the island’s proximity to the Mid Atlantic Ridge give geologists reason to classify the volcano as dormant. rather than extinct.

The crater in which I chose to make my virtual abode once contained a lake, but the lake dried up leaving behind a very peculiar landscape. Many of the island’s features seem to bear descriptive and sometimes humerous names. This crater is indeed Devil’s Riding School.  You can find a wealth of information and photos at Mysterra Magazine’s website

Devil's Riding School crater. Image originally posted at Mysterra.org

Devil’s Riding School crater. Image originally posted at Mysterra.org

And now for the score.

The final jackpot was nine points thanks to an almost last-minute question by a newcomer to the VVVc. Welcome to the Search-party Bill Guetz. Since Leslie was the first and only to actually name my volcanic location as well as which specific feature, she picks up a whopping 17 points  (nine for the jackpot, three for guessing the volcano, and five for the specific crater).

Next week we will likely return to our usual rules, but I am also working on a special Mount Etna virtual scavenger hunt for the near future. (Perhaps some holiday fun for Vulcanalia/Vesuvius-Day near the end of August)  Check back regularly for updates and be here next Monday evening for a new adventure at a new volcano.

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