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Report on Erta Ale (Ethiopia) — 8 December-14 December 2004


Erta Ale

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
8 December-14 December 2004
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2004. Report on Erta Ale (Ethiopia). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 8 December-14 December 2004. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (8 December-14 December 2004)

Erta Ale

Ethiopia

13.6°N, 40.67°E; summit elev. 613 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


During a trip to Erta Ale on 4 December, a group of scientists from SVE-SVG observed no activity in the lava lake in the volcano's South Pit crater. A solidified lava crust covered the crater floor about 15 m below the crater rim. The group also saw that new activity within North crater had produced a solidified lava bulge filling about 4/5 of the crater floor. Degassing from several small hornitos occurred in the central part of the lava bulge. During the evening, ten small incandescent vents were visible at the periphery of the lava bulge. In the morning, two plumes rose above the volcano.

Geological Summary. The Erta Ale basaltic shield volcano is the most active in Ethiopia, with a 50-km-wide edifice that rises more than 600 m from below sea level in the barren Danakil depression. It is the namesake and most prominent feature of the Erta Ale Range. The volcano includes a 0.7 x 1.6 km elliptical summit crater hosting 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 usually also holds at least one long-term lava lake that has been active since at least 1967, or possibly since 1906. Recent fissure eruptions have occurred on the N flank.

Source: European Volcanological Society (SVE)