Monday 13 June 2011


It’s official. Our planet is definitely acting up… why do I think that nature itself might take care of many of humanity’s problems just by flexing a few muscles and shakin’ out the jams? Despite the hubris of the elite and their minions, they do NOT have “the power” that they imagine they have. Move a few clouds around? Create tsunamis and earthquakes, floods, droughts, and the like? Sure, but these are small potatoes compared to what the planet itself can do if circumstances are right.

Things are now heating up in Africa as an old volcano prepares to really blow for the first time since 1851. If you are like me, your geographical knowledge of parts of Africa is not the strongest; maybe it is time to rectify that situation, non? 

June 13, 2011

Ever since news of the eruption in Eritrea began to seep out early today the identity of the volcano responsible has remained unclear. Dubbi was a prime candidate (and that’s the one Toulouse VAAC went for [UPDATE ~ Toulouse VAAC has now confirmed that the volcano is Nabro) but with the release of high definition MODIS satellite imagery from the Aqua satellite it is now pretty clear that the eruption originates at Nabro (as Mark Dunphy at Irish Weather Online and several commenters at Eruptions and Earthquake-Reports had suggested, so due acknowledgements to them for their insight). The image below comes from Aqua/MODIS, 10:45UTC 13 June 2011.

Nabro is a stratovolcano reaching to 2,218 metres a.s.l., truncated by nested calderas of 5 km and 8 km diameter, the latter caldera having a wide breach to the SW. Although Nabro has no recorded Holocene eruptive activity, the GVP (from which this description comes) notes that ' Some very recent lava flows were erupted from NNW-trending fissures transverse to the trend of the Nabro volcanic range', so if the current activity is from the Nabro complex it does not necessarily represent the surprise re-awakening of the volcano after millennia of dormancy.

Wiart and Oppenheimer (2005) identify these 'recent basaltic flows' as originating from 'Vents ... located between Nabro and Mallahle calderas, and fed in part from fissures aligned perpendicularly to the NVR [Nabro Volcanic Complex] axis’ (p. 104), although, working with strictly limited data, they do not venture a date for these flows. Satellite imagery shows these flows as weathered, but fresher and distinctly darker than surrounding material.
Above. Map of the Nabro Volcanic Complex from Google Earth, incorporating information from map in Wiart & Oppenheimer (2005), p. 106. Yellow line is the Eritrea/Ethiopia border.

Toulouse VAAC has issued a new ash advisory at 1200UTC for the volcano it is still calling Dubbi, reporting ash at altitudes varying from FL200 (20,000 feet/6000 metres altitude) in the vicinity of the eruption to FL450 (45,000 feet/13,700 metres altitude) to the north, where the plume curves back around to the east (map in .png format) after spreading across Ethiopia to reach Israel, Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia and western Iraq. In Israel the Jerusalem Post is reporting that the ash may disrupt flights from Eilat in the south of the country.

Erik Klemetti has an update on the Eritrea event at Eruptions. And have a look at this video from at YouTube.

The International Big News Machine is now catching up with this eruption. BBC News and Associated Press have both published reports in which they confidently identify the volcano concerned as Dubbi, based on the information from Toulouse VAAC. Reuters says it’s Dubbi, mentions that some people think it might be Nabro, then goes right back to talking about Dubbi again. And U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, attending some international get-together or other in Addis Ababa, is flying out early because of the ash cloud blowing in from Eritrea.

UPDATE: Toulouse VAAC has confirmed that the volcano erupting is Nabro in its latest volcanic ash advisory (issued 18:00 UTC); and via Twitter comes this photograph of Nabro’s plume, taken from ~200 km away by Mark Haldane.


Pierre Wiart and Clive Oppenheimer, ‘Large magnitude silicic volcanism in north Afar: the Nabro Volcanic Range and Ma’alalta volcano’, Bulletin of Volcanology, vol. 67, no. 2 (2005), pp. 99-115 [DOI: 10.1007/s00445-004-0362-x]

Nabro volcano in Eritrea erupts, ash cloud spreads ~ Irish Weather Online, 13 June 2011

Airlines watching East Africa volcanic ash cloud ~ Associated Press, 13 June 2011


Global Volcanism Program: Nabro ~ summary information for Nabro (0201-101)

1 comment:


    This one is known as the European Yellowstone, watch out if it goes.

    Along with Campi Flegrei I am watching the Fort Peck dam on the Missouri River. The levee burst on the Missouri River at Hamburg Iowa, a few miles down stream from Omaha. Omaha is near the power plant that had to be shut down.


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