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Report on Erta Ale (Ethiopia) — December 1987

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 12, no. 12 (December 1987)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Erta Ale (Ethiopia) S lava lake remains larger and hotter than N lake

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1987. Report on Erta Ale (Ethiopia). In: McClelland, L (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 12:12. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198712-221080.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


Erta Ale

Ethiopia

13.6°N, 40.67°E; summit elev. 613 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Landsat TM (band 7) data acquired 9 February 1987 suggest that . . . the lava lakes remained similar to . . . January 1986. The S lake was larger and hotter than its N companion, but temperature could not be constrained since the 1987 observation was based only on photographic format data.

Geologic Background. Erta Ale is an isolated basaltic shield that is the most active volcano in Ethiopia. The broad, 50-km-wide edifice rises more than 600 m from below sea level in the barren Danakil depression. Erta Ale is the namesake and most prominent feature of the Erta Ale Range. The volcano contains a 0.7 x 1.6 km, elliptical summit crater housing steep-sided pit craters. Another larger 1.8 x 3.1 km wide depression elongated parallel to the trend of the Erta Ale range is located SE of the summit and is bounded by curvilinear fault scarps on the SE side. Fresh-looking basaltic lava flows from these fissures have poured into the caldera and locally overflowed its rim. The summit caldera is renowned for one, or sometimes two long-term lava lakes that have been active since at least 1967, or possibly since 1906. Recent fissure eruptions have occurred on the N flank.

Information Contacts: D. Rothery, Open Univ.