Strong earthquakes are setting off a powerful volcanic eruption in Eritrea (based on satellite images)

By- Earthquake-Reports 

Last update: June 13, 2011 at 12:50 am by By Armand Vervaeck and James Daniell

Earthquake / Eruption summary : During the late afternoon and evening of June 12 2011, a series of moderate earthquakes struck the Afambo, Eritrea area. The moderate earthquakes were followed by 2 strong 5.7 earthquakes. Based on the earthquake pattern and the locations of the epicenter, volcano activity seemed imminent.


UPDATE 13/06 – 00:47 UTC : From now on we will have to wait for local reports, pictures, video’s etc.
We are very eager to get a confirmation that nobody was hurt and that no damage was inflicted during the earthquake and/or eruption.
Many scientists will board airplanes to take a close look at the volcano, take samples, etc.


UPDATE 13/06 – 00:15 UTC : This is a very recent Google earth picture (combined with satellite cloud image). The size of the cloud is 150 km on 50 km! (91 on 35 miles).

UPDATE 23:46 UTC : We are now convinced that the erupting volcano is the Nabro volcano (an official confirmation is still missing)

UPDATE 23:16 UTC : As long as we have no confirmation of local authorities we have to guess on the name of the erupting volcano. Dubbi volcano is one scenario as his activity could be traced to 1861. Based on the coordinates of the beginning of the eruption as well as the location of a number of the more powerful earthquakes, Pieter De Leeuw (Netherlands) has traced the eruption as probably coming from the Nabro volcano, a crater with a diameter of 8 km. We agree with him. Nabro volcano has no records of recent eruptions.

UPDATE 23:10 UTC : According to Global Volcanism Program, both Nabro and Dubbi belong to the Bidu volcanic complex


Nabro volcano, Eritrea – courtesy Google Earth


UPDATE 22:59 UTC : wants to know as fast as possible the situation in Afambo. The continuous earthquakes may have been damaging and depending the activity of the nearby Dubbi volcano, people in very nearby Afambo are at risk. We hope to receive OK signals soon, but as said earlier on, communications with this part of Eritrea will be very basic and it can take a while before the news reaches the outside world (if not cut off by the ongoing events).

UPDATE 22:45 UTC : This will be a very special volcano eruption because we expect that the eruption comes from the Dubbi volcano who had it’s latest recorded activity in 1861.

UPDATE 22:35 UTC : The following satellite picture clearly indicates that an eruption is going on in the area. Look at the upper right quarter. A point will gradually grow to a major cloud, which means that based on the scale the eruption is very huge.

We do appreciate the person from the Netherlands and a few other people immediately afterwards who traced this satellite picture. Satellite pictures courtesy

UPDATE 22:02 UTC : @ we expect that it will take at least 12 hours before we can get a more precise picture of what happened. We will keep you updated just as we do with all other earthquake and volcanic events that we are following up.

UPDATE 21:45 UTC : The earthquake intensity of the 5.7 magnitude earthquake (latest one) caused 451 people to feel a strong shaking and 17,000 people a moderate shaking (theoretical values)

UPDATE 21:44 UTC : As reported below the last known eruption of one the volcanoes dates back to 1861 (Dubbi volcano) and killed 106 people


The red point is the location of the first tremor – Dubbi volcano area


UPDATE 21:36 UTC : Some more information on the volcanic complex :
Mallahle is the central of three NE-SW-trending stratovolcanoes in the Danakil horst SW of Dubbi volcano, and lies SSW of Nabro volcano.
These two volcanoes, along with Bara Ale and Sork’Ale, form the Bidu volcanic complex. The complex Mallahle stratovolcano is truncated by a steep-walled 6-km-wide caldera. Mallahle is formed of rhyolitic lava flows and pyroclastics. Basaltic lava flows blanket the slopes of the
volcano. Recent obsidian flows are found on the NW flank of Mallahle and older obsidian flows were erupted on the northern caldera floor.
Flank spatter and scoria cones are most numerous on the western side of the volcano. Extensive ignimbrite deposits associated with the collapse of Mallahle and Nabro volcanoes blanket the countryside.

UPDATE 21:28 UTC : These magnitudes can lead to serious damage if the epicenter is below or very near to Afambo (which is very nearby based on the seismological data) . We do not think that there will be injured people as the series started with moderate earthquakes and as people will stay on the streets after so many earthquakes. The current situation tends to become very dangerous.

UPDATE 21:23 UTC : A Mw5.7 has been also recorded at depth 9km in around the same area. No record of damage has yet been recorded.

UPDATE 21:03 UTC : Lucas Tavares reports in our Facebook page : I was studying about this volcanoes past hours. Maybe the shakes surrounds the Mallahle or Nabro Caldera, there is’nt any known eruptions of these volcanoes! Shakes are becoming stronger!

UPDATE 20:58 UTC : We have still no trace (as expected) of what is really going on. This last 5.4 earthquake can be damaging at this shallow depth when the epicenter is located below a village or town. As we are unsure of the exact epicenter (the error margin may be 10 to 30 km different than reported by the USGS).

UPDATE 20:56 UTC : The earthquakes are continuing with the last one as the strongest so far with a magnitude of 5.4 at a depth of 10 km.

UPDATE 20:33 UTC : We are more and more convinced that one of the nearby volcanoes went into an active status as the distance to the ridge fault is to big to create this kind of earthquakes. Additionally almost all the earthquakes are occurring near the volcano complex on the picture (courtesy Google Earth)

UPDATE 19:37 UTC : This unusual series of moderate earthquakes have also occurred a couple of months ago in the Gulf of Aden. The earthquakes are typical for separating irregular tectonic plates. The series in the Gulf of Aden had their epicenter in the immediate area of the ridge fault.
Due to the close-by volcanoes, an eruption pattern of the Dubbi volcano is still possible. The pre-eruption pattern of both the Icelandic and Chilean volcanoes from the last few weeks is also present here. Compared to Iceland and Chile, Eritrea has other concerns than looking to beautiful eruptions. We will follow up these events and will come back to you as soon as we can get more data ?
UPDATE 16:11 UTC : Other agencies are reporting totally different and less dangerous numbers : GFZ: 4.9 @ 43 km and EMSC 4.7 @ 200 km
Moderate shallow earthquake with an epicenter almost below Afambo.
Approx. 15 km from the Dubbi volcano. The peak of the Dubbi volcano is 1625 m. There have been four known eruptions. In 1400 lava was determined to have reached the Red Sea while in 1861 ash was thrown over 250 km from the volcano. Two further events were suspected between 1861 and the 20th century.

During the late afternoon and evening of June 12 2011 a series of moderate earthquake struck at first near Afambo in Eritrea and later 100 km more to the south in Ethiopia. At the moment of writing, we do not know whether these earthquake have a tectonic or a volcanic origin.

Other moderate earthquakes which occurred after the first earthquake which is described in detail

M 4.5 2011/06/12 21:37 Depth 15.0 km ERITREA – ETHIOPIA REGION
M 5.7 2011/06/12 21:03 Depth 9.9 km ERITREA – ETHIOPIA REGION
M 5.7 2011/06/12 20:32 Depth 10.1 km ERITREA – ETHIOPIA REGION
M 4.8 2011/06/12 19:44 Depth 9.9 km ERITREA – ETHIOPIA REGION
M 4.7 2011/06/12 19:37 Depth 10.1 km ERITREA – ETHIOPIA REGION
M 4.5 2011/06/12 18:01 Depth 10.1 km ETHIOPIA
M 5.0 2011/06/12 19:21 Depth 10.0 km ETHIOPIA
M 4.7 2011/06/12 17:47:21 13.538 41.588 Depth 10.0 km ERITREA – ETHIOPIA REGION
M 4.8 2011/06/12 17:18:10 13.381 41.764 Depth 9.9 km ERITREA – ETHIOPIA REGION
M 4.3 2011/06/12 16:33:12 13.507 41.722 Depth 10.0 km ERITREA – ETHIOPIA REGION
M 4.8 2011/06/12 16:24:44 13.436 41.682 Depth 10.0 km ERITREA – ETHIOPIA REGION
M 4.7 2011/06/12 16:12:03 13.397 41.734 Depth 10.0 km ERITREA – ETHIOPIA REGION
M 4.5 2011/06/12 16:09:30 13.443 41.696 Depth 2.9 km ERITREA – ETHIOPIA REGION

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : 5.1
UTC Time : Sunday, June 12, 2011 at 15:37:05 UTC
Local time at epicenter : Sunday, June 12, 2011 at 06:37:05 PM at epicenter
Depth (Hypocenter) : 10 km
Geo-location(s) :
Almost below Afambo, Eritrea
128 km (79 miles) WNW of Assab, Eritrea


Series of moderate earthquakes hit Eritrea – Ethiopia border region                                                                                                  

By BNO News

ASMARA, ERITREA (BNO NEWS) — A series of moderate earthquakes struck the Eritrea – Ethiopia border region on Sunday evening, seismologists said, but it was not immediately known if there was damage or if there were casualties.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported a total of 14 light to moderate earthquakes in the border area on Sunday evening, with the strongest being two 5.7-magnitude earthquakes which were both centered in Eritrea.                     

The series of earthquakes began at 6.37 p.m. local time (1537 GMT) when a 5.1-magnitude earthquake struck about 128 kilometers (79 miles) west-northwest of Assab, a port city in the Southern Red Sea region of Eritrea. It struck about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake.

The moderate earthquake was followed by seven light earthquakes between magnitudes 4.5 and 4.8 on the Richter scale during the next 2.5 hours. Those were then followed by three earthquakes with magnitudes of 4.7, 4.8, and 5.0.

Soon after, at 11.32 p.m. local time (2032 GMT), a moderate 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck about 123 kilometers (76 miles) west-northwest of Assab at a depth of 10.1 kilometers (6.3 miles). It was quickly followed by another 5.7-magnitude earthquake, as well as a 4.5-magnitude earthquake.

There were no immediate reports from the region, but the USGS said there was a possibility of damage and casualties as a result of the earthquakes. It estimated that some 18,000 people may have felt moderate to strong shaking as a result of the 5.7-magnitude earthquakes, while 3.6 million others were estimated to have perceived light shaking.

Earthquakes in Africa are rare, especially moderate earthquakes, but similar events have happened before in the region. On July 20, 1884, a strong 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck offshore Massawa, Eritrea. Scores of homes in the region were destroyed but there were no confirmed reports of fatalities.