Erta Ale™s overflowing lava lake - Ethiopian volcano

Erta Ale is an active volcano in the Afar Region of Ethiopia. Courtesy Wikipedia -

Since November 2010, Erta Ale volcano has shown increased volcanic activity, shooting out hot lava up to tens of meters high.

Erta Ale is one of the most active volcanoes in Africa, and is characterized by a lava lake that has been permanently present during the last few decades, perhaps even since the early 20th century.
Its normal activity is characterized by gently bubbling lava and gas, but only since last year the intensity has tremendously increased.
The lake level rose more than 30 meters since February 2010, ultimately generating lake overspills and erupting explosively throwing hot lava blobs in the air since last November.
Just before the eruption in November, earthquake swarms were detected in the Gulf of Aden.
An international team of scientists is now investigating whether there is a connection between the earthquakes and the increased intensity of volcanic activity.

Lava lake in the caldera of Erta Ale volcano, Ethiopia - courtesy Wikipedia :

Erta Ale volcano is part of the Afar depression in Ethiopia, where the African continent is slowly splitting apart and where a new ocean will form in the future.
Because of the rifting in the Afar depression, the continental crust has thinned to such an extent that hot molten rocks from deep in the earth, can reach the surface and form volcanoes like Erta Ale.
The rifting process usually occurs very slowly at a rate of a few centimeters per year.
Since September 2005 however, an intense rifting episode at high speed began with the opening of new fissures along the surface of the Afar depression.
These kind of rifting episodes are not unusual, but were never witnessed in action before.
The more intense rifting is accompanied with more intense volcanic activity as well.

The video below shows the typical way a lava lake is behaving. The thin solid crust breaks open and is replaced by molten lava. The video footage is about 1 year old and has been shot before the lave lake started to overflow.

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  1. Duncan Kime says:

    My recent article on CNNs iReport