Erta Ale Facts
- Erta Ale represents an impressive, continuously active volcano, sitting in the Afar Region of Africa, in northeastern Ethiopia.
- The place is a basaltic shield volcano residing within the Afar Depression. This is a desert area which spans the border of Eretria.
- It is an extremely low elevation volcano. In fact, the region immediately surrounding it is entirely below sea level. Erta Ale is also the most active volcano in Ethiopia.
- Scientists know surprisingly little about the site. The local terrain is incredibly inhospitable and also, the local inhabitants are notorious for rarely allowing outsiders into the area.
- Maybe some places should remain a mystery to most.
Erta Ale Geology
The remarkable Erta Ale stands roughly 2,011 ft (613 m) high. The activity is continuous but variable. There is always at least one lava lake present, sometimes two.
These will occasionally flow out the south side of the volcano, to the terrain below.
The volcano is most famous for the longevity of its lava lake which has been present and active since at least 1906.
Lava lakes are exceedingly rare. Erta Ale is one of only six volcanos known to possess such formations, and the geological marvel of the lava lake there is the longest continuous one on earth.
That is quite a striking fact.
Erta Ale Activity
Erta Ale is centered over what is popular as the East African Rift. This provides it with a continual flow of fresh lava.
Aside from these generalities, little specific data is available. Though activity is continual, actual eruptions are rare.
The last major eruption occurred on September 25, 2005. At that time, thousands of people had to flee the nearby area.
Another, slightly smaller eruption occurred in August of 2007. Several hundred local residents had to escape, and two remain missing to this day.