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Report on Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — January 1983

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 8, no. 1 (January 1983)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) Vapor and tephra cloud

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1983. Report on Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania). In: McClelland, L. (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 8:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198301-222120.

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Ol Doinyo Lengai

Tanzania

2.764°S, 35.914°E; summit elev. 2962 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


On 6 January at first light (about 0600), Philip Sanders observed a cloud of vapor and fine tephra, not present the previous day, emerging from the volcano. During 12 hours of observation, the size of the plume gradually increased, but there were no audible explosions. Clouds obscured the summit the next morning and no additional observations are available.

Geologic Background. The symmetrical Ol Doinyo Lengai is the only volcano known to have erupted carbonatite tephras and lavas in historical time. The prominent stratovolcano, known to the Maasai as "The Mountain of God," rises abruptly above the broad plain south of Lake Natron in the Gregory Rift Valley. The cone-building stage ended about 15,000 years ago and was followed by periodic ejection of natrocarbonatitic and nephelinite tephra during the Holocene. Historical eruptions have consisted of smaller tephra ejections and emission of numerous natrocarbonatitic lava flows on the floor of the summit crater and occasionally down the upper flanks. The depth and morphology of the northern crater have changed dramatically during the course of historical eruptions, ranging from steep crater walls about 200 m deep in the mid-20th century to shallow platforms mostly filling the crater. Long-term lava effusion in the summit crater beginning in 1983 had by the turn of the century mostly filled the northern crater; by late 1998 lava had begun overflowing the crater rim.

Information Contacts: J. Sanders, Columbia Univ.