Does the lava lake of Erta ‘Ale volcano respond to regional magmatic and tectonic events? An investigation using Earth Observation data
Published:January 01, 2016
T. D. Barnie, C. Oppenheimer, C. Pagli, 2016. "Does the lava lake of Erta ‘Ale volcano respond to regional magmatic and tectonic events? An investigation using Earth Observation data", Magmatic Rifting and Active Volcanism, T. J. Wright, A. Ayele, D. J. Ferguson, T. Kidane, C. Vye-Brown
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Erta ‘Ale volcano lies at the centre of the Erta ‘Ale rift segment in northern Afar, Ethiopia and hosts one of the few persistent lava lakes found on Earth in its summit caldera. Previous studies have reported anecdotal evidence of a correlation between lake activity and magmatic and tectonic events in the broader region. We investigated this hypothesis for the period 2000–15 by comparing a catalogue of regional events with changes in lake activity reconstructed from Earth Observation data. The lava lake underwent dramatic changes during the study period, exhibiting an overall rise in height with concomitant changes in geometry consistent with a change in heat energy balance. Numerous paroxysms occurred in the lake and in the north pit; a significant dyke intrusion with subsequent re-intrusions indicated a role for dykes in maintaining the lake. However, despite some coincidences between the paroxysms and regional events, we did not find any statistically significant relationship between the two on a timescale of days to weeks. Nevertheless, changes in lake activity have preceded the broad increase in regional activity since 2005 and we cannot rule out a relationship on a decadal scale.
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Magmatic Rifting and Active Volcanism
A major rifting episode began in the Afar region of northern Ethiopia in September 2005. Over a ten-day period, c. 2.5 km3 of magma were intruded along a 60 km-long dyke separating the Arabian and Nubian plates. Over the next five years, a further 13 dyke intrusions caused continued extension, eruptions and seismicity. This activity led to a renewed international focus on the role of magmatism in rifting, with major international collaborative projects working in Afar and Ethiopia to study the ongoing activity and to place it in a broader context. This book brings together articles that explore the role of magmatism in rifting, from the initiation of continental break-up through to full seafloor spreading. We also explore the hazards related to rifting and the associated volcanism. This work has implications for our understanding of how continents break-up and the associated distribution of resources in rift basins and continental margins.