New flank eruption at Erta Ale volcano, Ethiopia

New flank eruption at Erta Ale volcano, Ethiopia

A fissure eruption at the SE flank of Ethiopia's most active volcano seems to be in progress approximately 7 km (4.3 miles) from the summit caldera and lava lake.

"According to our local correspondents, the activity at the summit has decreased a lot, which would be in accordance with the scenario of lava now being drained through lower fissures on the flanks," the Volcano Discovery reports. "The information we have so far is still sketchy and the reports need to be confirmed, but our source is reliable and it seems plausible that a flank eruption has actually started."

Apparently, the fissures opened on or shortly after January 21 and produced large amounts of lava now flowing into the direction of Afdera. 

The volcanic activity at the shield volcano in the Danakil desert has been at extraordinary and very elevated levels recently, the website said yesterday. It added that lava lake's surface level has been undergoing rapid and large variations, producing massive lava lake overflows.

It seems that the volcano is currently in a major phase of reshaping itself.

Geological summary

Erta Ale is an isolated basaltic shield volcano that is the most active volcano in Ethiopia. The broad, 50-km-wide edifice rises more than 600 m from below sea level in the barren Danakil depression. Erta Ale is the namesake and most prominent feature of the Erta Ale Range. The 613-m-high volcano contains a 0.7 x 1.6 km, elliptical summit crater housing 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 to the 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 is renowned for one, or sometimes two long-term lava lakes that have been active since at least 1967, or possibly since 1906. Recent fissure eruptions have occurred on the northern flank. (GVP)

Featured image: Erta Ale volcano, Ethiopia. Credit: Boris Pustovoytov

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