Report on Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — 7 August-13 August 2002
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 7 August-13 August 2002
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2002. Report on Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 7 August-13 August 2002. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
Ol Doinyo Lengai
2.764°S, 35.914°E; summit elev. 2962 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
During 4-9 August, Ol Doinyo Lengai was in a heightened state of volcanic activity. A group visiting the volcano for 5 days saw episodes of sudden explosive lava fountaining from cracks and fissures in the crater floor. Sulfurous gases were also unusually strong in the central crater. Around 0210, part of an expedition camp in the crater of Ol Doinyo Lengai was destroyed by extremely fluid pahoehoe lava flows. A local guide received several second-degree burns on one foot when material in his tent was ignited by the lava.
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.
Source: Ol Doinyo Lengai (Fred Belton)