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heard island

The new island may have been caused by changing sea levels. Australian Antarctic Division: Gary Miller.

Australian scientists making a visit to sub Antarctic Heard Island in the Southern Ocean have found a rapidly changing landscape.

The island is 4,000 kilometres south west of Western Australia and is home to two active volcanoes.

Australian Antarctic Division researchers found that an area known as “Elephant Spit” was no longer attached to the mainland.

Senior Environmental Policy Adviser, Ewan McIvor, says the creation of what appears to be a new island may have been caused by changing sea levels.

“Certainly the air temperature at Heard Island has been observed to have increased by about one degree celsius in the last 50 years,” he said.

“But it’s really hard to remove the possible contribution of rising sea levels from other contributions like the strong ocean swells and winds.”

The glaciers are in retreat too. Read more here.



Heard Island is windswept, mountainous and eerily beautiful, home to many creatures that thrive in the peace and safety of this island outpost of Australia.

Kingston-based Graeme Wheller, formerly a vulcanologist, today involved in Tasmanian tourism, took the photographs you see here when in 1986-7 he was part of a scientific expedition to Heard Island.

His adventures continue here.