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Report on Erta Ale (Ethiopia) — June 1987

Erta Ale

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 12, no. 8 (June 1987)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Erta Ale (Ethiopia) Landsat data show two crusted lava lakes

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1987. Report on Erta Ale (Ethiopia) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 12:8. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198706-221080

Erta Ale


13.6°N, 40.67°E; summit elev. 613 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

The following is abstracted from Rothery and others (1988). Landsat TM data acquired 5 January 1986 show both lakes. The northern one had shrunk to no more than 60 m across and the S lake was ~150 m in diameter. Temperatures derived from the data suggest that the lakes were quiescent with cool (< 400°C) crust. Incandescent cracks at ~1,150°C occupied < 0.4% of the surface area.

Reference. Rothery, D.A., Francis, P.W., and Wood, C.A., 1988, Volcano monitoring using short wavelength infrared data from satellites: JGR, v. 93, no. B7, p. 7993-8008.

Geological Summary. 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.