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Report on Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — October 1993

Ol Doinyo Lengai

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 18, no. 10 (October 1993)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke.

Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) Higher fumarole temperatures and sulfur emissions in N part of crater

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1993. Report on Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) (Venzke, E., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 18:10. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199310-222120

Ol Doinyo Lengai


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

No lava extrusion was observed . . . on 25-28 October. The distribution of lava flows was similar to descriptions for September. Magma was present at depth beneath cone T8 . . . . Sporadic tremors and explosions from unidentified sources at depth occurred throughout the visit. Fuming was taking place from most of the cones as well as from fractures in the N crater floor. Temperatures ranged from a low of 41°C at the S end of the crater (T26) to highs of 310°C in the N (T8) and 353°C near the center (T23). Sulfur concentrations of the fumes ranged from <1 ppm at T26 to ~1,000 ± 50 ppm at T8 in the N. Active fumaroles precipitating sulfur were also present along tangential fractures on the SE, NE, and W crater rims, and at several points on the inner crater walls.

The activity in late June from centers in the S part of the crater (18:7-9) was unusual because the area overlies buried collapse terraces. The late-October fumarole temperatures and sulfur concentrations, both significantly higher in the N part of the crater, suggest that the magma source has shifted back to its more usual position.

Geological Summary. 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: B. Dawson, Univ of Edinburgh; H. Pinkerton, Univ of Lancaster; D. Pyle, Cambridge Univ.