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Erta Ale volcano
Shield volcano 613 m / 2,011 ft
Danakil depression, Ethiopia, 13.6°N / 40.66°E
Current status: erupting (4 out of 5)
Erta Ale webcams / live data | Reports
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Erta Ale volcano eruptions:
1873(?), 1903(?), 1904(?), 1906, 1940, 1960, 1967-2004, 2005-ongoing
Typical eruption style:
Effusive. Persistant lava lake.
Last earthquakes nearby
Erta Ale volcano tours
Desert, salt and volcanoes (14 days expedition to Erta Ale volcano and Dallol hydrothermal field (Danakil desert, Ethiopia))

Latest satellite images

Erta Ale (Ethiopia) volcano news:

Erta Ale volcano (Ethiopia): satellite image shows flank eruption site

Friday Jan 27, 2017 20:05 PM | BY: T

NASA Earth Observatory image of Erta Ale on 26 Jan 2017, by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Caption by Adam Voiland.
NASA Earth Observatory image of Erta Ale on 26 Jan 2017, by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Caption by Adam Voiland.
Analysis of the satellite image showing the fissure vents and the lava flow fields (source: Culture Volcan)
Analysis of the satellite image showing the fissure vents and the lava flow fields (source: Culture Volcan)
A new Landsat 8 satellite image from yesterday published by Nasa's Earth Observatory site shows the location of the new flank eruption at Erta Ale.
It seems that there are two fissure eruption sites on the flanks of the volcano, at distances of approx. 3 and 4 km SE from the lava lake in the summit caldera.

Additional details about the flank eruption:
(based on a post from Culture Volcan)
According to eyewitness reports, it started on 21 Jan around 17:00 local time, when lava flows became visible covering a large area in the southern part of the caldera, at 2 km distance from the lava lake.
A close analysis of the satellite image shows that at least 3 vents opened southeast from the summit, along the NW-SE trending axis of the shield volcano between 2-4 km distance from the lava lake.

Before and during the opening of the flank fissures, large-scale collapses occurred in the summit area, involving both the northern and southern (lava lake containing) pit craters, and generating significant ash plumes that were visible from base camp.
The upmost new vent was located approx. 100 m lower in elevation than the lava lake while the lowest was at apprx. 400 m elevation, i.e. approx. 250 m lower. The eruptive fissures did apparently not produce large fountains, but generated three distinct lava fields:
- one to the northeast, reaching about 3 km length,
- a smaller one to the west (about 1 km), and
- one to the SSE, reaching about 2 km in length.
The surface occupied by the first two (on either side on the northermost fissures) can be estimated to be about 1.5km² (1,500,000m²), while the southern flow is about 0.35 km² (350,000 m²) large.

As a result of the sudden draining of the magma, the lava lake in the summit pit crater was reported to have dropped by 80-100 m and was affected by large rim collapses, making an approach extremely dangerous. The situation is similar for the northern pit crater.

For the time being, it is unclear whether the flank eruption was caused by simple hydraulic pressure of the high-standing magma column itself, forcing the opening of a fracture at lower elevation and draining the overlying magma column, or by a true rifting episode, i.e. a significant influx of magma from depth pushing its way into a lateral dike, or a combination of both.
Links / Sources:
Previous news
Hot spots on Erta Ale's caldera (MODIS data, Univ. Hawai'i)
Thursday, Jan 26, 2017
The flank eruption has been confirmed and it is still going on strong. ... [more]
Hot spots on Erta Ale - the reported flank eruption is not (yet) visible (MODIS data, Univ. Hawai'i)
Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017
News have come in about a fissure eruption at the SE flank of the volcano, approx. 7 km distance from the summit caldera and its lava lake (which partially collapsed on and after 20 Jan). ... [more]
The lava lake overflowing on all sides on 17 Jan 2017 (Photo: Enku Mulugeta)
Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017
The volcanic activity at the shield volcano in the Danakil desert has been at extraordinary and very elevated levels recently. Participant returning from our recent eruption special tour (14-20 Jan) reported that during their stay 16-20 Jan, the lava lake's surface level has been undergoing rapid and large variations, producing massive lava lake overflows when high and intense spattering when low. ... [more]

Saturday, Jan 14, 2017
Our guest Jens-Wolfram E. who participated (for his second time!) in the most recent Danakil expedition, although still traveling, sent us a first selection of "fresh" images from both Erta Ale and Dallol. [more]
Erta Ale's lava lake on 29 Dec 2016 (image: Jens Wolfram Erben)
Thursday, Jan 12, 2017
During their 24 December 2016 to 6 January 2017 Danakil expedition our small group spent 3 full days on the summit area of Erta Ale (from 29 Dec - 1 Jan 2017) to observe the changing activity from the two active craters (vents) inside the shield volcano´s large summit caldera. ... [more]

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