Virtual Volcano Vacation #82 WINNER! – Meru

meru cover

Mount Meru in Tanzania, the distinct breached caldera and Ash Cone seen here above the clouds – Image found at TanzaniaTourism.com – photographer unknown

If there is one thing I sometimes enjoy on these quests, it is creating confusion. Sometimes I choose a volcano that is similar in topgraphy to another, or one that is geographically out-of-place, or one that would literally be the last place you look if I didn’t actually like being found again. This volcano might be my kindred spirit. He shares his name with two other mountains, fooled a lot of people into believing he was erupting last year, and is the other mountainous claimant for a disputed but prestigious distiction in the Bible. You may not have heard of Mount Meru in Tanzania, but the name gets around.

Meru is called the fourth or fifth tallest mountain in Africa, whether you presume to measure for altitude or just prominence. Situated 70 km west of Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa,  Meru perhaps still feels his 4,565 km summit elevation inadequate next to 5,895 km Kilimanjaro. But for what he lacks in height, he makes up for in character.

meru ash cone

Mount Meru’s Ash Cone as seen from high atop the western rim of the caldera – Image found at TanzaniaTouristBoard.com – photographer unknown

Meru is marked by a 5 km wide caldera that was breached to the east about 7800 years ago by a summit collapse and lateral eruption similar to what happened at Mount St. Helens. The debris avalanches and lahars that followed reached all the way to the foot of Kilimanjaro. Ash Cone is the prominent feature that fills the center of the caldera now. LIttle Meru is a stratovolcano poised on the northern flank of Meru just outside the caldera rim. Other maars and domes are scattered around the volcano but the only historical activity has come from within the caldera.

Meru’s eruptive history has nothing to show after the great collapse all those thousands of years ago up until it awakened at the end of the 19th century. Its last eruption, a VEI 2, occurred in 1910, although a forsest fire inside the caldera created a substantial amount of confusion on 20 September 2015 when it manifested itself as a smoky plume in satellite imagery.

meru false start

“False alarm” at Mount Meru on 20 September 2015 – NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response – Image found at EarthObservatory.NASA.gov

If you look for Meru on Wikipedia, you may be directed to the disambiguation page. Meru Peak is a mountain in the Indian Himalayas and is also the name of a lengendary mountain that is the center of the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universe in Hindu and Buddhist faiths. Meru is also believed by some to be the end of the voyage for Noah’s ark. The Arabic texts name a “har-meni”, which is thought to refer to the mountain of Meni, another name for Meru.

Congratulations to Leslie, who found me after the third postcard. Next week, I hope to have something special added to the usual VVVc hunt, so be sure to be here this coming Monday for a new adventure at a new volcano.

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