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Erta Ale Excursion

As you can see from the other pictures, this was a fantastic trip in many ways. But the purpose of the trip was to catch a glimpse of active lava lake at Erta Ale, and it absolutely delivered. This place is not easy to get to - after flying to Addis, then to Mekele, then driving for a day to Hamad Ela, we drove across the sandy desert for a day (getting stuck only once!) to the Afar camp of Dodom, where we obtained permissions and escorts. We then drove up onto the flanks of the volcano to base camp, waited for dark, then hiked 9 km and 400 m up to the Erta Ale crater. After descending into the main crater, we hiked across shelly pahoehoe from overflows of a smaller crater at the center that contains the lava lake. We were able to get to within 10 feet of the crater edge, which contained a lake some 50 - 80 m across and 10 - 20 m below the rim. This was more active than I expected, with a roiling, thin surface, many fountains, and lots of gas, steam, and heat. It was surreal. Morning found us hiking down, this time in the light, so we could see all the fairly young lava flow textures.

Here are my favorites:


Ladies of science Kite cam Kids of Dodom
Rest at base camp Lake! Gas and heat
Sunrise Crater edge Lava and camels

Some videos from the Panasonic Lumix pocket digital cam of dust driving and lava!!:

If you want, you can download BIG versions of lava videos 511, 512, and 513.

Also, look at the compilation video assembled from footage from the Sony Handycam HDR-HC1, small, and large.

Look at GPS tracks of our trip overlain on Google Earth maps:

All pictures are below:

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Please credit Jani Radebaugh for all pics/vids, thank you!