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Report on Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — June 1989

Ol Doinyo Lengai

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 14, no. 6 (June 1989)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) Bubbling lava at one vent

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1989. Report on Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 14:6. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198906-222120

Ol Doinyo Lengai


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

On 12 January, when Michael Peterson led a field party to the volcano's summit, no liquid lava was visible in the crater. Steam was emitted from vents T4/T7, T8, and T9, as well as from areas along the saddle. Intermittent rumbling sounds originated from near H4 (W of T5). During an overflight in late May, Steve Cunningham witnessed bubbling lava on the SE side of the crater, near T10.

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: C. Nyamweru, Kenyatta Univ; Thad Peterson, Arusha, Tanzania.