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BBC documentary probes the volcanoes of Danakil 19 March 2009

Posted by admin in Africa, Erta Ale, Ethiopia, volcanology.
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There’s only one thing that is more important than news on the BBC News website, and that’s self-promotion: hence the thinly-disguised plugs for BBC television and radio programmes that regularly infest the BBC News pages. Just occasionally, however, the BBC self-publicity machine throws up something worthwhile.

A new two-part documentary on the Danakil region of north-eastern Ethiopia, Hottest Place on Earth, will (among other things) look at the fascinating geology of the region. As part of the programme Dr Dougal Jerram of Durham University will be using 3D technology to provide high resolution maps of the interior of the Dabbahu fissure and the crater of Erta Ale volcano. BBC News has an interesting article by Dr Jerram in which he tells us all about it. The video extract showing his descent into Erta Ale is fascinating, and visually stunning.

The Danakil region was the setting for last November’s dramatic fissure eruption at Alu/Dalaffilla. It would be really nice if some enterprising scientific documentary maker went there and had a look around.

(The BBC likes to get its geologist-presenters to abseil into Erta Ale whenever possible. It’s not that long ago that Dr Iain Stewart was doing it for Earth: Power of the Planet. The video of that found its way onto the BBC News website as well.)

The Volcanism Blog

Ethiopian eruption – further coverage 10 November 2008

Posted by admin in Africa, Alu, Dalaffilla, Erta Ale, eruptions, Ethiopia, geoscience.
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NASA’s Earth Observatory has a feature today on one of the MODIS images of the eruption in the Afar region of north-east Ethiopia, captured by NASA’s Aqua satellite on 4 November, that have been discussed here in an earlier post: Activity on the Erta Ale Range.

This link came via Geology.com, who also have a very useful article on the wider geological context for all that’s going on in the Ethiopian Rift: East Africa’s Great Rift Valley: A Complex Rift System (by James Wood and Alex Guth). For further background reading, try this article from Spiegel Online, March 2006: Africa’s New Ocean: A Continent Splits Apart.

Viewing the Ethiopia category will bring up previous posts from The Volcanism Blog on this eruption.

The Volcanism Blog

Eruption in Ethiopia – Erta Ale, or not? 6 November 2008

Posted by admin in activity reports, Africa, Erta Ale, eruptions, Ethiopia.
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The identification of Monday’s eruption in Ethiopia with Erta Ale may have been erroneous. An update on the eruption from Dr Simon Carn of Michigan Technological University via the VOLCANO listserv is circumspect:

Satellite instruments detected an eruption in northern Afar, Ethiopia on November 3. The eruption first manifested itself as a large sulfur dioxide (SO2) cloud drifting eastwards over the Arabian peninsula, detected by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) and the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS). MODIS data from the University of Hawaii’s MODVOLC hot-spot monitoring tool (http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu) confirmed an extensive hot-spot (presumably lava flows) near Alu volcano, in the northern part of the Erta ‘Ale range. Details are still sketchy and these observations are as yet unconfirmed from the ground.

Ethiopian news sources are also rather round-about in identifying the location of the eruption. The official Ethiopian News Agency describes the eruption as occurring ‘at Ertale volcanic area of Afar State, north-east Ethiopia’, while the EthioBlog also speaks of ‘a volcanic explosion in Ethiopia’s remote north-eastern Afar region’.

Wherever the plume came from, it was indeed extensive. The image of the plume below from 5 November, put together from data gathered by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite, is from the NOAA’s currently experimental site displaying near real-time 24hr composite OMI SO2 information (thanks to Nickolay Krotkov for this link). The plume stretches across the Arabian Peninsula, the Gulf, and across Pakistan and northern India. The more red, the higher the concentration of sulphur dioxide.

SO2 plume

The Activolcans report on the eruption settles for Alu, on the basis of the SO2 monitoring information from OMI and the hotspot report from the University of Hawaii. More on this eruption as news comes in. Erik Klemetti also has detailed coverage at the Eruptions blog.

News
Volcano erupts in Ertale volcanic area of Afar Region – Ethiopia News Agency, 4 November 2008
Ethiopia volcano sets lava record – EthioBlog, 6 November 2008

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Erta Ale – information about Erta Ale (0201-08=)
Geophysical Observatory – Institute of Geophysics, Space Sciences and Astronomy at Addis Ababa University
L’Erta Alé, volcan actif dans le Danakil – a French page with many pictures of Erta Ale from an expedition to the volcano which took place in November 2006

The Volcanism Blog

Erta Ale eruption reported 5 November 2008

Posted by admin in activity reports, Erta Ale, eruptions, Ethiopia.
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Erta Ale, January 2007 (image by Flickr user filippo_jean, licensed under Creative Commons)

Erta Ale, Ethiopia’s most active volcano and one of the most active in Africa, has been busy with its current low-intensity eruptive phase since around 1967. A basaltic shield volcano, Erta Ale is well known for its remoteness, forbidding environment, and long-lasting lava lake (pictured above). A report today from the African Press Agency, quoting the Institute of Geophysics, Space Sciences and Astronomy at Addis Ababa University, says that a significant eruption took place late yesterday without ‘human or material damage’, but details are scarce. There is a fuller report at the South African business news site Moneybiz (also at the Independent Online) which talks of a 300 sq km lava flow and quotes expert opinion that the eruptions of Erta Ale are due to ‘the expansion of tectonic plates under the Great Rift Valley’. Hmm.

In August 2007 an eruption of Erta Ale caused some fatalities and forced local evacuations. UPDATE: Boris Behncke notes (see comments on this post, below) that this 2007 eruption was not at Erta Ale but at Manda Hararo volcano some distance to the south.

Image: lava lake at Erta Ale volcano, January 2007. Credit: Flickr user filippo_jean. Re-used here under a Creative Commons licence. [source]

News
Afar in Ethiopia rocked by volcano – African Press Agency, 5 November 2008
Record volcanic eruption in Ethiopia – Moneybiz, 5 November 2008
Volcano erupts in Ethiopia – Independent Online, 5 November 2008
Ethiopia volcano sets lava record – BBC News, 5 November 2008

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Erta Ale – information about Erta Ale (0201-08=)
Geophysical Observatory – Institute of Geophysics, Space Sciences and Astronomy at Addis Ababa University
L’Erta Alé, volcan actif dans le Danakil – a French page with many pictures of Erta Ale from an expedition to the volcano which took place in November 2006

The Volcanism Blog

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