Volcanoes reshape the surface of the Earth all the time , but their influence is demonstrated in particularly dramatic form when new islands are created by volcanic activity. There’s been an interesting example this kind of event over the new year in the southern Red Sea, among the Zubair islands off the west coast of Yemen. The eruption seems to have begun on or around 19 December 2011 and to have lasted for nearly a month, ceasing by 15 January 2012, by which time a new island had been added to the Zubair archipelago (‘Throw away that shiny new atlas you got for Christmas – it’s already out of date’, was the engaging comment of the New Scientist‘s ‘Short Sharp Science’ blog).
This event was well reported by Erik Klemetti at Eruptions and Joe Bauwens (who, like me, has studied geosciences with the Open University) at Sciency Thoughts, and I have given links to their reports below. The main point of this post is to showcase the wonderful images of the eruption available through the NASA Earth Observatory. The following images trace the progress of the eruption from late December: in each case click on the image to go to the original report at the Earth Observatory.
This image was captured by the Advanced Land Imager on NASA’s EO-1 satellite on 23 December 2011, a few days after the eruption was first observed. A thick plume can be seen rising from the new island created by the volcanic activity.
A detail view from another EO-1 ALI image, this one captured on 7 January 2012, shows that the newly-created island has grown in size, with steam and ash (and considerable sulphur dioxide) streaming away northwards.
This detail from an image captured by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) on Landsat-7 shows the new addition to the archipelago, crater clearly visible (with perhaps a small crater lake inside it), on 15 February 2012.
The Red Sea is a very tectonically active place. Here the African and Arabian plates are pulling away from each other and new oceanic crust is being created. The rifts associated with this process feed the volcanism of Eritrea and Ethiopia on the western side of the Red Sea and that of the Arabian peninsula on the eastern side, as well as the volcanic activity beneath the Red Sea itself that sometimes breaks the surface in the form of islands.
Potential eruption off the coast of Yemen – Eruptions, 19 December 2011
Eruption in the Zubair Archipelago in the southern Red Sea – Sciency Thoughts, 22 December 2011
New Red Sea volcanic island – Olelog, 28 December 2011
Global Volcanism Program: Zubair Group – summary information for the Zubair Group (0201-02=)
Yemen to establish volcano monitoring network 31 July 2008Posted by admin in Jebel at Tair, natural hazards, Red Sea, volcano monitoring, Yemen.
The Yemeni news agency SABA reports today that Yemen is to set up its first volcano monitoring network. The network will monitor volcanic conditions in Yemen and neighbouring states, and will be established under the auspices of the National Seismological Observatory Centre (NSOC).
The Global Volcanism Program currently lists 14 Holocene volcanoes in Yemen, including four volcanic islands in the Red Sea. Yemen’s most recent volcanic activity was at the volcanic island of Jebel at Tair, where an eruption on 30 September 2007 destroyed a military base and caused some fatalities. NATO warships and the Yemeni Coast Guard carried out search and rescue operations. The activity continued into December 2007.
Image: Jebel at Tair erupting in the early hours of 1 October 2007 (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Vincent J. Street) [Source].
Yemen to set up first volcano monitoring network – Saba Net, 31 July 2008
Global Volcanism Program: Arabia – GVP’s Holocene volcanoes database for Arabia (covers Yemeni mainland volcanoes)
Global Volcanism Program: Africa and the Red Sea – GVP’s Holocene volcanoes database for Africa and the Red Sea (covers Yemeni Red Sea volcanoes)
National Seismological Observatory Centre, Yemen – English-language page for Yemen’s seismological monitoring centre
Jebel at Tair ‘may threaten regional navigation’ 8 December 2007Posted by admin in activity reports, Jebel at Tair, natural hazards, Yemen.
The Ministry of Fisheries Wealth (MFW) sent a warning to all fishermen not to get close to the Island of Jabl al-Tair due to the reawakening of the volcano that erupted last Monday. Sources say that this is a precautionary measure aimed at ensuring the safety of the fisherman and nearby citizens. ‘The Ministry of Fisheries Wealth announced in a circulation note to all fishermen to report any dangerous developments they may have witnessed to the office in order to take the necessary actions and inform the concerned parties,’ said Abdullah Abdu Borji, general manager of the MFW office in Houdeida.
In response to Jebel at Tair’s recent increase in activity, additional earthquake monitoring stations have been established on the islands of Zogar and Hunaish Kubra. Earthquakes were detected in the region on Monday and Tuesday of last week.
The general manager of the General Authority for Development and Promotion of Yemeni Islands has used the recent awakening of Jebel at Tair to call for increased regional co-operation in dealing with such natural hazards: ‘There is a great need to set up a regional center for monitoring earthquakes and other natural disasters in order to be able to take early action, as the safe area is shrinking and this increases the risks, especially for regional navigation’.
(The form of the name used by the Yemen Observer is ‘Jabl al-Tair’; this blog uses the Global Volcanism Program form of ‘Jebel at Tair’.)
Jebel at Tair erupting 5 December 2007Posted by admin in activity reports, eruptions, Jebel at Tair, Red Sea, Yemen.
The volcano at Jebel at Tair (or Jabal al-Tair), an uninhabited island in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, erupted again on 3 December 2007. Its current phase of activity began with an eruption on 30 September 2007; according to the Yemeni Geological Survey Authority it has been active since that date, with occasional lava flows. No-one has been killed or hurt in the current eruption, and the Yemeni authorities say that no threat is posed to neighbouring islands. Nine people were killed and over 40 injured in the 30 September eruption, which destroyed a naval base on the island.