Virtual Volcano Vacation #31 WINNER! – Erta Ale

Image originally posted at Science Blogs / Eruptions (Erik Klemetti's most excellent volcanology blog)

Image originally posted at Science Blogs / Eruptions (Erik Klemetti’s most excellent volcanology blog)

Leslie was hot on my virtual heels again this week (quite virtually literally) and found me in Ethiopia at Erta Ale.

Erta Ale is a basaltic shield volcano that sits over the East African Rift where the continental plate is being pulled apart. The subsequent “unroofing” of the mantle at the location of the rift valley gives rise to volcanoes such as Erta Ale and the numerous other volcanoes of the region.

Photo by Jürg Alean, 2002 (Kantonsschule Zürcher Unterland, Bülach, Switzerland). - Originally posted at Global Volcanism Project

Photo by Jürg Alean, 2002 (Kantonsschule Zürcher Unterland, Bülach, Switzerland). – Originally posted at Global Volcanism Program

Situated in the middle of a desert called the Afar Depression (..from afar I have traveled…) and contains one and sometimes two lava lakes. The one located in the south end of the large summit caldera is called “the Gates of Hell”, and is believed to have been present at least since 1906, making it the oldest lava lake on Earth. On occasion, the lake rises and spills over the rim of the summit crater, posing serious danger to the few villages below. Being a thin lava, it can flow very quickly, and being that Erta Ale is mostly monitored remotely, there would be little opportunity to evacuate the scattered populations around the volcano once an eruption is apparent.

And in more trivial interest, the lava lake of Erta Ale was given a quick cameo in the 2010 manifestation of the film Clash Of The Titans..appropriately enough as the gates to the underworld through which Perseus had to travel.

Thanks once again to Leslie for looking for me, and for linking back to this blog on Facebook..and for some wonderful poetry which I may just be adding to a future special-collection section on this blog. (among the many other things I keep meaning to do here). You picked up 15 points and are the one to catch.  Tune in this coming Monday for  a new volcano and a new challenge..as well as this blog’s kickoff of what I call holiday season…Vulcanalia, Vesuvius Day and culminating with the anniversary of the start of the Holuhraun eruption.  Y’all don’t wanna miss the fun.

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