Oldoinyo Lengai expedition

29.7.03 to 9.8.03

part I


guided by Fred Belton:  

Tom Pfeiffer, Marco Fulle, Stephane Granier and Martin Rietze

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Overflight in the early morning about 8:00 o'clock with a five seated prop

The Oldoinyo Lengai is at present the only active sodium carbonate volcano of the world. He is situated in the north of Tansania in the Rift Valley. Directly under the summit in the height of  2800m a southern today inactive crater and a northern crater which is filling itself by continuous sodium carbonate activity, did formed the volcano. Normally there are Pahoehoe and Aa lava streams, which are effusing from fissures and hornito look like cones. This happens relatively calmly and harmless. During this expedition strombolian activity could be observed excluding partial violent eruptions up to 100m height. Also the high ash portion was very atypical and may signs of a possible new large eruption, as it took place already once in the 60's. Within a short time by large quantities of ejected material the main cone was developing itself again. This process was mentioned during the expedition by' Little Etna' which collapsed during our presence two times. It rebuild again and again in adventurous scenes. From there luckily we got off by burning only holes in our clothes.                                                  

Here is now the course of the activity:

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Start from Arusha and staying overnight in the Massai village at the Lake Natron.
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 An 1700m ascent to the crater, departure around  2:00  in the night because of the heat. Little Etna appeared calmly but relatively active in the evening

The moon gets devoured by the active cone. The stars left vertical traces on the long exposured film and shows the equatorial position of this impressive place.

2.8.03 Little Etna was during the day time a little active, and effected high ejection flags in the noon. At night the activity increased.

3.8.03 Over 0:40h suddenly the top of the apprx. 25m high Little Etna collapsed when I stood alone on a 20m distanced old cone which was about 10m high. Tom Pfeiffer was straight at the descent when we both could saw the hardly visible collapse sounding like a little rock evalance, followed  by violent eruptions with ejection of large lava quantities a few seconds later. Now we decided to remain on our observation point. From time to time small lava pieces could reached us by burning holes in our clothes an left marks at the tripods.

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In the morning the inactive phase changed into a more violently phase which forced the material up to 100m.In the evening beautiful eruptions took place, which were partial looking like lightening swords, hearing first noises of the inactive old side cone in western direction.

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In the morning a small activity but the side cone showed the first time little ejections and steam output.shows the N- side of L. Etna. The snow-white old lava gave an nice and clear contrast to the fresh black material. This black material got transformed particularly by the occasionally daily fog into the white form.



In the afternoon at the side cone an intervall of gas output began under high pressure, forming fissures at its walls from which steam was pushing through. The high pressure made clear that a collapse was imminent. Since our presence I took for the first time no camera with me, and so I had to ran back to get the possibility to film this unique event.

Go to

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