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Ethiopian eruption: scientists on ground, shoes melt 13 July 2009

Posted by admin in activity reports, Africa, eruptions, Ethiopia, Manda Hararo.
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The first on-the-ground reports from the location of the recent eruption in the Manda Hararo volcanic field in Ethiopia have come from David Ferguson, a doctoral student in geology at the University of Oxford. He is reporting on his work on the volcanics of the Afar region in a series of blog postings for The Guardian.

Part 1 describes how he dropped everything and flew out there to take a look at what was going on, part 2 and part 3 (with photographs, including a wonderful aerial view of an eruptive fissure) see him reach the location courtesy of the Ethiopian Army, while part 4 (with more pictures) is an account of what he found once he got there with his Ethiopian colleagues:

As we reached the front of the lava flow one of our group, Dr Elias Lewi, walked out over its brittle surface, quickly turning back as his shoes begin to melt. Although only a few days old, the lava had a dark black crust and was deceptively similar to other, much colder flows. The real temperature was revealed by Talfan Barnie, a PhD student from Cambridge, who used a thermal infra-red camera to ‘see’ temperatures of up to 162C around the cracks and fractures across the flow surface.

We had to be very careful where we trod.

David Ferguson reports extensive (~10 square km) fresh lava flows from the eruption, about 3 m high at the margins, gas emissions, and a 5-kilometre fissure and central vent producing a small plume. There is more on Manda Hararo in the Global Volcanism Program’s Weekly Volcanic Activity Report for 1-7 July.

The Volcanism Blog