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Erta Ale volcano, Ethiopia - eruption update

Wednesday Oct 05, 2005 08:18 AM | BY: TOM PFEIFFER

One week after the start of the eruption of Erta Ale, some details emerge as news reports come in: the crater of the large shield volcano has rapidly filled with fresh lava and possibly overflowed, destroying farmland and killing much livestock. strong strombolian or hawaiian activity is producing thick clouds of ash that shower over the volcano's surroundings.  


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.


No fatalities have been reported, but the Ethiopian government evacuated about 50,000 nomads in the surroundings of the volcano. A committee has been set up at to study the magnitude of the damage.


---
Source: Various news sources + GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report 8 September  4 October 2005

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