The island was given its name by the American sealer Nathanial Palmer who visited the island in 1820. In the early 1900s, when seals were nearly hunted to extinction, Antarctic hunters turned to whaling.
Deception Island, the caldera of a volcano, served for many years as a whaling station. Remnants of this trade are still very visible here frozen in time by the freezing and extremly dry Antarctic air. Buildings are still standing and with it, in some places, the products that were brought in to support the whaling business. Behind one of the buildings the fuselage of an old Otter plane is resting after unknown number of flights in this extreme environment.
The recent activity of the volcano that forms the island can still be seen and felt in the almost warm waters within the crater, as geothermal heat is still rising to the surface and melting the ice and to produce warm, steaming waters in the natural harbor Whalers Bay. A perfect well protected spot for ships. Entrance though to this harbor is a bit treacherous and needs great naviational skills, as the entrance is narrow and in some places very shallow, bordered by twoerig walls of basalt.
A bit more history about this magnificent piece of nature:
In the austral summer of 1906-7, a Norwegian Captain, Adolfus Andresen, began whaling and establish the Hektor whaling station at Deception Island in a place called Whalers Bay. Factory ships took full advantage of the protect cove and processed whale blubber into whale oil, a valuable commodity for lubrication, lighting, and other purposes in the early 20th century. The actual whaling station did not actually process whale blubber, but instead took the carcasses and boiled them down to extract additional whale oil, using large iron boilers, and storing the results in iron tanks. The rusty remains of these boilers and tanks can still be seen today.
Whalers established residences that included a kitchen, hospital, and a small cemetery -- 45 men were buried in the station's cemetery (38 Norwegians, 3 Swedes, 1 Briton, 1 Chilean, 1 Russian and one of unknown origin), but the cemetery was buried in a 1969 volcanic eruption. In 1931 the Hektor station was closed due to the drop in price of whale oil which made it no longer profitable to hunt whales in the Antarctic. British researchers then used the same site for their scientific station until it was finally abandoned on February 23 1969 because of volcanic eruptions that serious damaged the station buildings.
The ruins of this station are the most complete remains of whaling history in the Antarctic, and governments have agreed to let the remains stand, undisturbed, to be seen and understood as part of maritime history and to show the immense power of the volcanic activity that still haunts the island.
Deception Island is also noted for being the largest active volcano in the region and one of the main sources of seismic and volcanic activity in the Antarctic. The surrounding shoreline (inside/outside the caldera) is made-up of dark gray to black dense to fine-grained igneous rock that consists of basic plagioclase, augite, and usually magnetite. From ash layers in lake sediments on the Antarctic Peninsula and from neighboring islands, geologists have been able to construct a unique record of volcanic eruptions occurring over the past 8,700 years on Deception Island.
Approximately 10,000 years ago, a violent and massive eruption evacuated about 30 km³ of molten rock from the Island, collapsing the volcano's summit forming the Port Foster caldera. The volcano was extremely active during the 18th and 19th centuries. 20th century eruptions occurred during two short periods, between 1906-1910 and 1967-1970. Because of these eruptions, the only remaining signs of the old whaling station are the rusting boilers and tanks. Other remains at Whalers Bay include an aircraft hangar and the British scientific station house, with the middle torn out by the mudflows in 1969.
The most recent eruptions took place in 1991-1992 when researchers recorded enhanced seismic activity which was accompanied by ground deformation and increased seawater temperatures. Today, geologists are watching the seafloor of Port Foster which is rising rapidly in geological term (rate: approximately 30 cm per year).
The volcano is classified as a restless caldera with a significant volcanic risk and for you daring adventurers, it's one of the only places in the world where vessels can actually sail directly into the center of the flooded crater.
If you're one of the lucky expeditionary ships sailing through the Neptunes Bellows to explore the protected anchorage in Port Foster, you can't help noticing that the terrain looks much like a lunar landscape capped with snow – just barren, dark brown volcanic rock. The topography inside the crater comprises of barren volcanic slopes, steaming beaches and ash-layered glaciers. It's an amazing and thrilling experience. Do not forget to bring your bathing suite as swimming in this water is a unique experience.