Erta Ale

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  • Country
  • Subregion Name
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 13.6°N
  • 40.67°E

  • 613 m
    2011 ft

  • 221080
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

24 November-30 November 2010

Scientists from the Afar Consortium Project observed the lava lake at Erta Ale during 21-23 November. They noted Strombolian activity from the lava lake in the southern pit crater. The lava lake had filled the pit crater and breached the W rim, spilling two lava flows into the main crater. The lava lake was encompassed by a scoria ring that was about 4 m high on the S side. By 23 November, the lake was above the scientist's eye level when they stood W of the southern pit in the main crater.

Source: Afar Rift Consortium



 Available Weekly Reports


2010: November
2005: January | September | October
2004: December
2003: January


24 November-30 November 2010

Scientists from the Afar Consortium Project observed the lava lake at Erta Ale during 21-23 November. They noted Strombolian activity from the lava lake in the southern pit crater. The lava lake had filled the pit crater and breached the W rim, spilling two lava flows into the main crater. The lava lake was encompassed by a scoria ring that was about 4 m high on the S side. By 23 November, the lake was above the scientist's eye level when they stood W of the southern pit in the main crater.

Source: Afar Rift Consortium


5 October-11 October 2005

According to a news report, after a M 4.3 earthquake on 4 October an eruption occurred at Erta Ale. The earthquake occurred in the remote region of Afar and was the 11th earthquake in the region since September.

The following activity was incorrectly reported as occurring at Erta Ale when it actually occurred at Dabbahu. See the 12-18 October 2005 Weekly Volcanic Activity Report for the full report. A team of scientists visited the Da'Ure locality of Erta Ale on 4 and 5 October after there were reports of volcanic activity there on 26 September. They determined that a minor explosive eruption occurred from two semi-circular vents, producing ashfall that was ~5 cm thick near the vent and extended more than 500 m from the vent. Boulders ejected during the eruption were as large as 3 m and were deposited as far as 20 m away. The scientists noted intense degassing from the vents, the scent of sulfur dioxide, and the sound of boiling water in the vents.

Sources: Gezahegn Yirgu, Department of Earth Sciences, Addis Ababa University, Agence France-Presse (AFP)


28 September-4 October 2005

A group of scientists assessed the visible changes at Erta Ale on 26 September after activity began around 24 September. In comparison to observations made in November 2004, they found that the southern main crater/pit had widened significantly, with portions of the previous crater walls having collapsed into the lava lake. A new cone-shaped construct had grown within the southern main crater where there had been a platform. A lava lake occupied the entire width of the inner crater/pit. In the northern crater/pit, there was a solidified lava bulge and abundant "smoking" along the crater walls. No incandescent lava was visible in the pit.

Based on descriptions by local residents of seeing "red and glowing light shooting and rising into the air above the volcano," the scientists believe that a Strombolian eruption probably occurred, emitting a significant volume of fresh magma within, and possibly out of, the pit. According to news reports, about 50,000 nomads in Ethiopia's Afar region were displaced after the eruption.

Sources: Gezahegn Yirgu, Department of Earth Sciences, Addis Ababa University, Agence France-Presse (AFP)


21 September-27 September 2005

According to unconfirmed reports from local authorities, Erta Ale began erupting on 24 September after a series of earthquakes occurred along the Afar western margin on the previous day. The earthquakes, with a maximum magnitude of 5.5, were recorded at the Geophysical Observatory of Addis Ababa University. A group of geologists and geophysicists were planning to travel to the field to make observations.

Source: Gezahegn Yirgu, Department of Earth Sciences, Addis Ababa University


26 January-1 February 2005

An international team led by SVE, visited Erta Ale during 22-23 January. They observed no significant changes at the volcano since last observed in November 2004. Degassing continued from three of the four coalescent hornitos in the SW part of South Crater, but decreased slightly in comparison with observations made in December 2004. One hornito contained glowing molten lava. Degassing from North Crater also slightly decreased. Near the NW wall of the crater two small red glowing areas were visible at the summit of two hornitos in the crater.

Source: European Volcanological Society (SVE)


8 December-14 December 2004

During a trip to Erta Ale on 4 December, a group of scientists from SVE-SVG observed no activity in the lava lake in the volcano's South Pit crater. A solidified lava crust covered the crater floor about 15 m below the crater rim. The group also saw that new activity within North crater had produced a solidified lava bulge filling about 4/5 of the crater floor. Degassing from several small hornitos occurred in the central part of the lava bulge. During the evening, ten small incandescent vents were visible at the periphery of the lava bulge. In the morning, two plumes rose above the volcano.

Source: European Volcanological Society (SVE)


22 January-28 January 2003

A team of French scientists who visited the summit of Erta Ale on 4, and 13-14 January noted significant changes in morphology and activity at the volcano in comparison to several months previous. As has been the case for decades, a lava lake was present in the W part of the S pit crater. It was 120 x 80 m in size and its surface was ~100 m below the crater rim. Observers saw lava fountains spraying above the lake, as well as convection within it. The lava lake and resulting platform were higher than when observed in April 2002. Abundant SO2-rich gases were released that were not noted during earlier visits.

Source: Jacques-Marie Bardintzeff from Université Paris-Sud and Franck Pothé from Terra Incognita


Summary of eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1967 (in or before) 2013 Aug 7 (continuing) Confirmed 0 Historical Observations
1960 Jan Unknown Confirmed 0 Historical Observations
1940 Unknown Confirmed 0 Historical Observations
1906 May Unknown Confirmed 0 Historical Observations
[ 1904 Nov 1 ± 60 days ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  
[ 1903 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  
[ 1873 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  

The following references are the sources used for data regarding this volcano. References are linked directly to our volcano data file. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title. Additional discussion of data sources can be found under Volcano Data Criteria.

Barberi F, Varet J, 1970. The Erta Ale volcanic range (Danakill depression, Northern Afar, Ethiopia). Bull Volc, 34: 848-917.

Burgi P-Y, Caillet M, Haefeli S, 2002. Field measurements at Erta'Ale lava lake, Ethiopia. Bull Volc, 64: 472-485.

Francis P W, Rothery D A, 1987. Using the Landsat Thematic Mapper to detect and monitor active volcanoes: an example from Lascar volcano, northern Chile. Geology, 15: 614-617.

Harris A J L, Carniel R, Jones J, 2005. Identification of variable convective regimes at Erta Ale lava lake. J Volc Geotherm Res, 142: 207-223.

IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior..

Oppenheimer C, Francis P, 1998. Implications of longeval lava lakes for geomorphological and plutonic processes at Erta 'Ale volcano, Afar. J Volc Geotherm Res, 80: 101-111.

Richard J J, Neumann van Padang M, 1957. Africa and the Red Sea. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI 4: 1-118.

Varet M J, 1971. Sur l'activite recente de l'Erta Ale (Dankalie, Ethiopie). CR Acad Sci Paris, Ser-D, 272: 1964-1967.

Wiart P, Oppenheimer C, 2005. Large magnitude silicic volcanism in north Afar: the Nabro volcanic range and Ma'alalta volcano. Bull Volc, 67: 99-115.

Wood C A, 1978. . (pers. comm.).

Erta Ale is an isolated basaltic shield volcano that is the most active volcano in Ethiopia. The broad, 50-km-wide volcano 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 of Erta Ale.