New lava flows from Erta'Ale
I write the Eruptions blog on Big Think. I've been mesmerized with volcanoes (and geology) all my life. It helps that part of my family comes from the shadow of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia, where I could see first hand the deadly effects of volcanic eruptions. Since then, I've taken a bit of a winding path to become a volcanologist. I started as a history major at Williams College, almost went into radio, but ended up migrating to geology, including an undergraduate thesis on Vinalhaven Island, Maine. I followed this up by changing coast to get my Ph.D. from Oregon State University. Then I ran a MC-ICP-MS lab at University of Washington for a spell (and wrote for an indie rock website). I spent three years as a postdoctoral scholar at University of California - Davis studying the inner workings of magmatic systems. I am now an assistant professor at Denison University and have projects in New Zealand, Chile and Oregon.
I am fascinated by volcanoes, their eruptions and how those eruptions interact with the people who live around the volcanoes. I started this blog after getting frustrated with the news reports of volcanic eruptions. Most of them get the information wrong and/or are just sensationalistic. I will try to summarize eruptions as they occur, translate some of the volcanic processes that are happening and comment on the reports themselves.
And no matter what people tell you, I definitely do not have a cat named Tephra. (OK, I do).
You can find out more about my research by visiting my website. If you have any comments, questions or information, feel free to contact me at eruptionsblog at gmail dot com.
There hasn't been a lot of coverage in the news, but Ethiopia's Erta'Ale has started issuing new lava flows over the last week. I got a note from an Eruptions reader who is near the volcano that offers some details:
Just back a couple of days ago from Erte Ale on one of Tom Pheifers Volcano Discovery Tours, and Erte Ale has begun to have lava flows.The lava lake often boiled over causing small flows. The pit has grownup and now sits about 20m above the old one with lava right at the surface.
There are also a report from the Leeds University Afar Rift Consortium that mentions the new lava flows - with images of lava flows and samples taken from these new eruptive products, all from November 21-23. It seems pretty clear that the lava lake in the crater of the volcano is very active, with lava flows coming from breaches in the lake and small spatter cones/ramparts forming from the fountaining of the low viscosity basalt magma. Especially evident is how much the crater lake area has filled with lava since February 2010 (see below). All this activity is part of the ongoing activity at Erta'Ale that started in 1967 - and all part of the Eastern African Rift.
The changes in the lava within the crater from February to November 2010. Image from the Afar Rift Consortium.
Top left: Lava flow and spatter from Erta'Ale, erupted on November 22, 2010. Image from the Afar Rift Consortium.
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