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Enku's field report from Erta Ale 16-20 Jan

“As soon as we arrived in the morning of 16 Jan 2017, we tried to observe the southern crater from the distance of 4m at the southern direction and the swelling up reached at the mouth of the rim with small fountains.
The vigorous overflow started at 10:30 Am in the southwestern direction and we were following every step from the nearby view point hill.
The activity continued progressively in both sides of the rim and at about 4 Pm in the afternoon both the fountaining and overflow reached at climax and covered the surface of the whole caldera with an average speed of 50Km/hour.
The hill the we usually was observing the Lava Lake is totally engulfed with low viscous ,speedy and deep orange coloured fresh lava flows that we cannot move down to the caldera. The only access was from our shade area and the small hill place where the security takes their position for watching.
On the 17 Jan 2017 the overflow seems slowing down and swelling up continuing again with a fountain in the northern direction 3m high.
In the afternoon the activity reached at climax and broke the crater wall rim and started to flow with high speed in all directions .This day is a like a records in Erta Ale history specially because the voluminous lava ejection and observing 20 -30m fountains splashing on the northern side of the wall.
We were observing the vigorous eruption whole night and in the morning of 18 Jan 2017 the crater seems to build a kind of wall especially in the northern direction in an inclination 45 degree towards the crater.
The flow reached at the walls of the older caldera and even comes up to our camp wall.
The following has been estimated in all directions:
Southeast side runs about 500m,
North side runs about 300m,
Northwestern runs 500m,
Northeast side runs 300m with an average thickness of about 3m.
On 18 Jan 2017 it is more of fairly continued fountains 10 -15m high.
It is highly pressurized and the northern edge of the molten lava lake is surrounded by embryonic cone, built by fountaining activity.
On 19 Jan 2017, we started our morning again with big splashes, strong fountains and overflows especially in the southwestern direction with every 20 minutes process of the level goes down wards and swelling up alternatively.
The episode consisted of many volcanic events with an estimated lava discharge of 50m3 / second in all directions and 20m high lava fountains.
The building up of the northern edge of the lava lake continued to make embryonic cone/wall and the crater is almost blocked from the northern side.

21 Jan 2017 is the day that another eruption has occurred southeastern side of Erta Ale Lava Lake with huge emission of lava to the east that is the flow runs to the Afdera side.”
• All news about: Erta Ale volcano
• Information about: Erta Ale volcano

21 April 2017 Preliminary Report on the status of Erta Ale behavior from April 11 – 15 April 2017.

Teams and visitor were traveling to Erta Ale from April 11 – 15 April, 2017 for observation and identifying the area of visit for the coming season.

With collaboration with Addis Abeba University, we have prepared a kind of format which can be used both by the professional Geologist and layman who has traveled to volcanoes frequently (Like Local Guides around Afar Region).

I received the raw data and interviewed them for 2 hours to have the overall picture of the present status of the whole activity around Erta Ale and the new fissure eruption which has been started on 22 Jan 2017.

Accordingly I found out and produced the following preliminary report:

The group has observed substantial changes compared to conditions described in the past report and activity in February/March 2017.

The old southern Lava Lake surface has begin to be observed and sat 50 m below the North crater rim and 40m below the east crater rim. On top of the crust stood two coalesced hornitos in the NE part of the southern crater. The hornitos estimated to be 7m high and emitted high temperature and pressure so2 – rich gas and momentarily contained/emitted glowing molten lava.

The Old Lava Lake has chilled within 200m diameter in nearly circular in shape and the level of the Lava Lake would change every 30 Minutes as there is frequent collapse of the surface and then again Lava tubes from the wall of the crater feed and fill the crater with rapidly fresh flow of molten lava.

The group has also observed continues fountain of Lava from the surface of the Lava Crust about 25m high.

The surrounding surface around the rim/mouth of the crater seems to be solidified very well and people can now walk around the rim and able to observe the activities in the old southern Crater Lake .That is great news and I am very much enthusiastic to witness this.

The North pit is still the strong and noisy degassing of so2 spouted from several small hornitos grown in the central part of the solidified crust.

The new recently fissure eruption that has undergone in 22 Jan 2017 was no development of substantial lava overflow or fountaining. Instead the level of the Lava Lake went down about 10m from the rim and only a small fountaining occurred during the night time which rises up to 3m to the rim level.

Still it is impossible to approach the new fissure (Lava Lake) eruption from a near distance and you can make the observation only from ~700m distance in the Northern part of the caldera.

So to conclude the status of Erta Ale, this days the old southern Lava Lake has started to rise up to the solidified walls of the widened crater and the level is changing now and then frequently.

I am trying to send the updated picture of the recent status in the old southern Lava Lake and hope you will get it soon.