July 3, 2011 - Activity at Nabro volcano, Eritrea

Activity at Nabro volcano, Eritrea

On June 29, 2011 the dense plumes of water vapor, gas and ash that poured from the Nabro volcano since eruption began seventeen days earlier calmed, allowing a clearer view of the summit. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite captured this true-color image at 07:40 UTC on that same day.

In this image, the large red areas indicate thermal anomalies, where the temperature recorded by the MODIS instrument is higher than the background temperature. At Nabro, this marks where lava flows out of the erupting vent and down the slope of the volcano. A very small light brown plume can also be seen rising from the vent, while the land to the south and west of the vent is blackened with ash.

Located in the East African nation of Eritrea, close to the border of Ethiopia, Nabro began erupting explosively on June 12, 2011. The powerful eruption sent plumes of ash streaming over North Africa and the Middle East, and pumped vast quantities of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. The ash halted flights in East Africa for a time. The eruption killed seven people, said the Eritrean government, and other reports indicate that thousands were affected in both Eritrea and Ethiopia, though news from the region is sparse.

More recently, the volcano has eased into a quieter, lava-oozing phase, although MODIS images captured on July 1 indicated that steam, gas and ash emission has once again intensified.

The Nabro volcano has not erupted in recorded human history, but lava flows near the volcano are relatively recent geologically. Nabro is part of the very active East African Rift, where three tectonic plates are pulling away from each other. As the Earth’s crust thins in the region, volcanoes rise in weak spots.

Image Facts
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 6/29/2011
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC