By Mark Dunphy – Sat Jun 18
Satellite imagery of the Nabro volcano in Eritrea shows that the eruption is ongoing despite confirmation Friday from the Toulouse-based Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAS) that the activity at the stratovolcano had ceased.
NASA’s Aqua satellite flew overhead Saturday at 12 P.M. (local time) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument identified ash continuing to spew from the stratovolcano.
Factoring in the calm conditions in the region this afternoon, the image suggests that the eruption is spewing ash/SO2 emissions due west. The image clearly shows ash concentrations drifting south over the Ethiopia border and into parts of Djibouti.
The region has been hit by 6-8 moderate earthquakes during the past 36 hours, including a 5.6 magnitude quake early Friday. The moderate earthquake struck the Ethiopia/Eritrea border at 10.15 A.M. (GMT) Friday (12.16 P.M. local time). The quake epicentre was located 205 km Northwest of Djibouti (pop 623,891) and 88 km West of Asseb in Eritrea (pop 72,114).
Sunday night’s eruption, the first ever recorded eruption of the stratovolcano, led to some flight cancellations in neighbouring Sudan, Djibouti and Ethiopia, and saw a massive ash plume being carried as far away as Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkmenistan, Somalia, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Egypt. A second eruption Thursday sent a massive ash plume westnorthwest over Sudan threatening to bring further disruption to air traffic in the east Africa region.
Despite Friday’s brief lull in activity the continued eruption of the north east African volcano is likely to cause some concern for airline operators in the region.
Part of the Afar Triangle, Nabro is one of many volcanic caldera complexes in the north easternmost part of the East African Rift valley region. The stratovolcano is located in the Danakil Depression, close to Eritrea’s border with Ethiopia and north of Djibouti, and has not erupted in at least 150 years. It is the most prominent of 3 large volcanoes (Nabro, Dubbi, Mallahle) in the region, each containing a large summit caldera. Nabro comprises lava domes, lava flows, and two calderas, 8 and 5 km in diameter.
The volcano is located along the Great Rift Valley, also known as the East African Rift. the divergent plate boundary extends from the Afar Triple Junction southward across eastern Africa, and is in the process of splitting the African Plate into two new separate plates, the Nubian Plate and the Somali Plate. Seismic activity is frequent in Ethiopia In 1961 alone three thousand tremors were recorded from the centre of the Wollo province resulting in a 20km fissure being opened on the slopes of the Borkena graben.