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Nabro update, 17 June 2011 17 June 2011

Posted by admin in activity reports, Africa, Eritrea, eruptions, Nabro, volcanoes.

The most recent volcanic ash advisory for Nabro volcano in Eritrea, issued by the Toulouse VAAC at 18:00 UTC on 16 June 2011, reports that the emissions are ‘mainly composed of SO2’. Satellite images currently show no sign of ash, but there is much evidence of copious sulphur dioxide emission. OMI data (from the ESA’s Support to Aviation Control Service near real time data page) shows the SO2 plume stretching north-west from Nabro, then curving back across Egypt and the Middle East and into central Asia, to reach as far as western China.

Nabro SO2 plume 14-17 June 2011 (OMI data, KNMI/FMI/NASA)

Above. Nabro SO2 plume 14-17 June (OMI data, KNMI.FMI/NASA). From ESA SACS.

Yesterday emissions were still vigorous with an upswing in activity which caused renewed flight cancellations in Eritrea’s neighbours to the north and west. The ash advisory issued by Toulouse at 1200 UTC on 16 June reported emissions, ‘mainly SO2 and ice’, at 20,000-40,000 feet (6,000-12,000 metres) altitude. NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a MODIS showing a robust plume from Nabro’s caldera (image below reduced in size – click here or on the image for the original at the NASA Earth Observatory):

Nabro volcano, Eritrea, erupting 15 June 2011 (NASA/Aqua)

Above. Nabro volcano erupting 15 June 2011 (NASA/Aqua).

MODIS hotspots data for the last 24 hours downloaded from the University of Maryland’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) and plotted onto Google Earth suggests a large lava flow has been produced by the current phase of activity, perhaps reaching 16 km west of the caldera. The Google Earth plot is below – click on the image to enlarge (my apologies for the lack of a scale bar: the width of the area in the image is ~22 km).

MODIS hotspots: Nabro caldera, 17 June 2011 (University of Maryland/FIRMS)

For a glimpse of what the Nabro caldera looked like before the current eruption, here’s an ISS astronaut photograph taken in (I think – I don’t have the precise date) January this year. Many thanks to Robert Simmon of NASA for providing this image. The image has been rotated 180 degrees from the original to make comparison with later pictures easier (thanks T. W. in the comments). Click on the image for a larger version.

Iss astronaut photograph of Nabro caldera (ISS/NASA)

Finally, we have known for sure since Monday that the volcano erupting in Eritrea is Nabro, not Dubbi. So, to clueless news outlets which are still blithely reporting that Dubbi is erupting: shame on you.

Eritrea volcano: ash disrupts air travel in East Africa – BBC News, 15 June 2011
Nabro volcano erupts again Thursday – Irish Weather Online, 16 June 2011
Fresh Dubbi eruption threatens ash disruption – Arab News, 17 June 2011

Global Volcanism Program: Nabro – summary information for Nabro (0201-101)

The Volcanism Blog


1. Infolyzer - 17 June 2011

SO2 emissions seem intense. It there any official estimation of their amount?

2. admin - 17 June 2011

I haven’t found any information on SO2 volumes, but would be very interested to see some good estimates. Recent eruptions in this region have tended to be SO2-rich events (Manda Hararo 2007, Dalaffilla 2008).

3. T.W. - 17 June 2011

Minor request: I think the bottom image of Nabro needs to be rotated 180 degrees. There is a pale horseshoe shaped feature in the top left-ish portion of the picture that is in the bottom right portion of the upper picture. Sorry to be picky, but I was trying to visualize how much of the region had changed due to the eruption. It would be easier if N was N in both images.

4. admin - 17 June 2011

That’s a fair point, T. W., and I have rotated the image as you suggest.

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