Eritrea: Volcanic Eruption on the Eritrean-Ethiopian Border

Danakil Volcano

Volcano in Danakil

Geologists in the region report that a huge amount of lava has spewed in the remote volcanic complex in Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression bordering Eritrea.

According to the report, the eruptive activity has started since late June and the heat from the spewing lava was first detected by space-based thermal sensors.

The area is believed to be home to mainly nomadic herders. So far there have been three other eruptions of the Manda Hararo volcanic field since the first volcanic activities in modern times began there in August 2007. 

However, the Ethiopian News Service announced that the current eruption is being accompanied by dense plumes of sulphur dioxide gas.

According to the news, the eruption killed five people and hundreds of livestock and forced 50,000 nomads to flee, although there is no detail if the eruption has struck any of the nomadic herders in the area. 

This active volcanic area is an extension of the East African Rift Valley, the oldest and best defined rift in the Afar region on the Eritrean-Ethiopian border.

The exact mechanism of the rift formation is still under debate among scientists.

Evidences suggest that the East African Rift System (EARS) assumes elevated heat flow from the asthenosphere (the liquid layer of mantle), which is causing a pair of thermal “bulges” in central Kenya and the Afar region on the Eritrean-Ethiopian border.  

It is believed that the EARS is one of the geologic wonders of the world, a place where the present tectonic forces could possibly create new plates by splitting apart old ones.