Erta Ale volcano is a large basaltic shield volcano in the Erta Ale volcanic range in the central northern Danakil depression (NE Ethiopia).
It is famed for its persistent lava lake which has been active during most of the past decades since it was first discovered in the 1960s.
Erta Ale is only 613 m high, but as typical for a shield volcano has a very gentle slopes and a large 40 km diameter base. The summit is truncated by a complex, elongated 1700 x 600 m wide caldera which contains vast lava flows and several larger and smaller pit craters, most notably the active north and south crater, which contains the lava lake at present.
Erta Ale is one of the main attractions of the Danakil, and had became a popular tour destination in recent years. Unfortunately, the deadly attack on 4 January 2012 against tourists and scientists camped on the crater rim, in which several were killed, illustrates that the area is politically unstable and can be subject to terrorist attacks. Anyone visiting the volcano should be aware of this.
Satellite image of Erta Ale volcano showing the heat signal from its summit lava lake
There are signs that the volcano's famous lava lake is increasing again. The lake is contained in the main (southern) pit crater inside the summit caldera of the vast shield volcano, located in one of the most remote places of the Danakil depression in the Afar triangle. Read more...
Recent satellite imagery shows a significant hot spot from the crater, due to the presence of lava accumulating there as the new lava lake. There are no signs of lava effusing from the fissure vents on the volcano's southern and SE slopes active during 2017-19, which confirms that this lateral eruption has ended for good. This in turn would favor the reformation of the summit lava lake as magma rising inside no longer is being drained on the flank, but uses the central conduit to form a lake in the summit area. [less]
Copyrights:VolcanoDiscovery and other sources as noted. Use of material: Most texts and images, in particular photographs, on this website are protected by copyright. Further reproduction and use of without authorization is usually not consented. If you are not sure or need licensing rights for photographs, for example for publications and commercial use, please contact us.