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Vaughan, RG, Kervyn, M, Realmuto, V, Abrams, M, Hook, SJ (2008). "Satellite measurements of recent volcanic activity at Oldoinyo Lengai, Tanzania". JOURNAL OF VOLCANOLOGY AND GEOTHERMAL RESEARCH, 173(4-Mar), 196-206.

Oldoinyo Lengai (OL) is the only active volcano in the world that produces natrocarbonatite lava. These carbonate-rich lavas are unique in that they have relatively low temperatures (495-590 degrees C) and very low viscosity. OL has been erupting intermittently since 1983, mostly with small lava flows, pools and spatter cones (hornitos) confined to the summit crater. Explosive, ash-producing eruptions are rare, however, on September 4, 2007 the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) captured the first satellite image of an ash plume erupting from OL, which may be indicative of a new phase of more silica-rich products and explosive activity that has not occurred since 1966-1967. In the months prior to the eruption, thermal infrared (TIR) satellite monitoring detected an increasing number of thermal anomalies around OL. Data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor analyzed with the MODLEN algorithm detected more than 30 hot spots in the last week of August and first week of September 2007, some of which were from bush fires ignited by lava flows or spatter around the volcano. Higher-resolution ASTER data confirmed the location of these burn scars associated with lava flows. ASTER also detected the appearance of an anomalous hot spot at the summit of OL in mid-June with temperatures similar to 440 degrees C, the presence of several new lava flows in the crater in July and August, and on September 4 measured higher temperatures (similar to 550 degrees C) possibly suggesting a more silicate-rich eruption. ASTER spectral emissivity data were interpreted to indicate a mixture of carbonate and silicate ash in the eruption plume from September 4. Based on the analysis of both ASTER and MODIS data combined with occasional field observations, there appear to have been 2 distinct eruptive events so far in 2007: a typical natrocarbonatite eruption confined to the summit crater in June-July, and a more intense eruption in August-September consisting of natrocarbonatite lava overflowing the crater and explosive events forming ash plumes up to similar to 5 km high, apparently consisting of a mixture of silicate and carbonate ash. OL is one of the many volcanoes in the world, and especially Africa, that is not regularly monitored with in situ instruments. Continued satellite monitoring along with studies of past thermal activity will help determine how future eruptions and ensuing hazards may be forecasted. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.



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