ATLAS OBSCURA

Deception Island - Antarctica 

Deception Island has been coveted and then deserted by many, and thedilapidated shells of buildings, boats and whaling equipment remain as proof of its productive years as a Norwegian-Chilean whaling station as well as the home of several scientific stations run by Chile, Argentina, Spain, and the UK.

The thing is, building and operating expensive equipment on an active volcano is risky business, even if the area is considered one of the safest harbors on the continent due to its large caldera, a famous refuge from storms and icebergs. While several countries were bickering over sovereign flags and attempting to occupy the lusted-after real estate in the 1960’s, the island had apparently had enough, and kicked everyone off. Erupting twice in two years, it demolished research centers and buried everything left behind in ash, including a cemetery occupied by 45 deceased whalers and a long deserted aircraft hangar.

The island’s use is now administered under the Antarctic Treaty System, and it is now a popular tourist attraction as well as a scientific outpost. The giant iron boilers and tanks of the long gone whalers still stand, large holes cut in their sides as a deterrent to the Nazis, who were feared to have been planning to use them to store fuel. Chinstrap penguins roam around everywhere, as the west side is home to one of the world’s largest chinstrap rookeries.

But wait, there’s more! Keep reading on Atlas Obscura for how you can soak in a volcano-fueled hot spring on Deception Island…