Satellite Captures Fissure Eruption of Erta Ale

NASA Earth Observatory released a magnificent photo captured by Landsat 8 satellite. The image shows the recent activity of the active shield volcano Erta Ale in the northern Ethiopia.

Since the beginning of the January, so-called “Smoking mountain” and “The gateway to hell”, Erta Ale volcano has shown an eruptive activity. As three tectonic plates separate, a new elongated crack occurs, spilling large amounts of lava.

These cracks or fractures at the surface of the volcanoes are called fissures. The lava is usually erupting for several hours, or days, after which the lava flows back into the ground.

The fissure on Erta Ale volcano opened up a few days ago and it’s located 4 miles (7 km) from the volcano summit. One of the lava lakes has experienced large changes in the volume of lava. The lava, with constant and intensive spattering, keeps overtopping the crater. As NASA reports, plumes of volcanic gases and steam drift from the lava lakes.

Erta Ale volcano is one of the world’s 6 volcanoes with exposed lava. It is a continuously active volcano with two lava lakes – although the number of the lava lakes changes. The volcano had erupted several times in the past decade, last time in 2007, forcing the evacuation and killing several people.

The image is captured by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) sensor on Landsat 8 on January 26, 2017. Look at the high-resolution image at NASA Earth Observatory website.