The eleven islands of the South Sandwich volcanic arc are amongst the least explored places on Earth. The mostly glacier covered volcanoes are home to the largest penguin colonies worldwide, and nine of them have reported (historic) eruptive activity. Any attempt of systematically mapping volcanic activity, or landscape- and glacier dynamics at the South Sandwich Islands is challenging due to their remoteness and inaccessibility.The data presented here were acquired in the framework of the volcano-related project “SSIVOLC” during cruise PS119 on board the German icebreaker research vessel RV Polarstern that headed to the South Sandwich Islands on 15 April 2019 from Punta Arenas and retuned on 31 May 2019 to the Falkland Islands. A major aim of SSIVOLC was to collect photogrammetric data of the glacier-covered Mount Michael Volcano on Saunders Island, which is highly active and holds an active lava lake within its summit crater, which seems to be persistent since the 1990s (Grey et al. 2019).Here, we are providing full access to optical DSLR camera footage and to a selection of still images acquired by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that we were able to collect on May 17 and May 22, 2019. Because of the remoteness, inaccessibility, and difficult climatic conditions, footage like this is extremely rare, but of great value to various scientific communities, including volcanologists, biologists, and glaciologists. The data were acquired using handheld DSLR cameras and two different UAV models. The former were taken by scientists aboard RV Polarstern using consumer cameras of type Panasonic DMC-G6, Canon EOS 7D Mark II, or SONY DSC-RX10M3 that carried the DMC-G6 (integrated), EF28-300mm (f/3.5-5.6L IS USM), and DSC-RX10M3 (integrated) lenses, respectively (cf. Table 1). The UAV images were acquired in 2-second time-lapse mode using the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, and the DJI Phantom 4 Pro quadcopters. The performance of the UAVs under very cold (-15°C to 0°C) and windy (8 to 25 knots) conditions, and during low light or dark hours exceeded our expectations.Our UAVs were operated under special permission that was designed by the Govenor under Article 6 of the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 2013, and issued by the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) and the Air Safety Support International Ltd. This special permission allowed for the operation of the small unmanned aircraft Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) and up to an altitude of 5,000 ft, in the United Kingdom Overseas Territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. We were launching the UAVs from the RV Polarstern (located just offshore the island), and reached a maximum UAV altitude of 1,370 m above sea level, which allowed for the collection of the unprecedented UAV based photo archive of Saunders Island.The associated data descriptinon summarizes the basic parameters of the UAV flights, the weather conditions, and the major issues that we were facing while operating the drones under the given circumstances. We are summarizing important metadata of our footage in Table 1, and the footprints and viewing geometries are given in Figure 1. The data are provided in .JPG format. Each drone acquisition carries the GPS coordinates (GCS Lat/Long WGS84) of the UAV position in their properties. Panorama pictures (named PA-xx-xx-xx) are not provided in full resolution (for storage reasons), but can be shared in full resolution upon request (please contact the corresponding author, N. Richter). We also discuss some details and give interpretations for selected acquisitions below, referring to an additional labelled version (provided in .PDF format). Please note that the scales on labelled pictures are rough estimates only as in fact scales vary significantly throughout the depth of each picture.
Aircraft 〉 UAV
EARTH SCIENCE 〉 SOLID EARTH 〉 TECTONICS 〉 VOLCANIC ACTIVITY