Oldoinyo Lengai expedition II
27. June - 7. Juli 2004
Day 1: Arusha – Lake Natron – Lengai
A dusty affair. As a pre taste for the Oldoinyo Lengai camp we could feel the pure fine dust which was creeping through every little chink.
Protective wall: Each settlement is surrounded with a solid wood barricade which should keep away wild quadruped, tourist etc..... Like Martin needs to say: The human beeing in this region of the world does not belong to the end of the food chain. In this landscape it is amazing under which hard conditions the Masai people can survive.
The Lengai with the typical wild life and morning impressions on the 'Mountain of god'
To evade the hot temperatures the ascent of the expedition was started around 1 o'clock at night. Beside our luggage, 35 porters transported in stages 250 litres water, meals for twelve persons for eight days up to the 2835 m level of the north crater. The summit height of this volcano is about 2955 m. While concentrating to balance the cameras and the other optics over the steep and rocky slopes the Masais were ascending like gazelles. Additionally an extreme cold and strong storm was treating us badly. Inside the crater plateau pieces of loosen lava were taken up from the storm and facial collisions has been very painful. Together with the cement-like dust in the crater camp it was nearly impossible to film or taking photos. Nice to imagine if that weather disaster would have continued the next eight days. Nothing as dust before the camera... plus small scratches on the films.The pictures shows the Masai porter after our arrival at the summit. The dark atmosphere resulted from the strong sandstorm. Here we met also the
The always changing landscape of the northern crater plateau. The lava flows expanded during one week over the south and north east part.
The map is based on the GPS measurements of Chris Weber. The link to the site (V.E.I.) is at the end of this page
The T58 Cones from the afternoon into the night
Lengai and astronomy
The southern Milky Way and the Zodiacal light * (Wide angle, 20 mm )
Night photos of the cones. This fantastic scenery acquires the digital exposure technology. In case of the long exposure times, the red incandescence walls of the main cone did become effective on the chip. For the human eye the reflection at the white cone walls of the weak shining lava lake was hard to discover.
* Zodiacal light.
Illuminated space dust which is concentrated in the
ecliptic layer of our solar system. Every body or
planet belonging to our system leaves a little track
of material (dirt) while orbiting around the sun. In
equatorial areas this light pyramid is standing
nearly vertical. Straight
on waking up from my
This highly liquid lava which changes immediately into the AA lava consists mainly of Natriumcarbonate (Soda).During the observation I saw one detail that this lava at the south cone had pearl-like components and already with the exit a minimum roll effect was resulting from this partial viscosity. This strange behaviour of currency which differs also acoustically from the silicate lava was moving very rapidly, and you must react very fast to evade larger lava quantities during an eruption.
The temperature measurement of the
Day 4: Collapse of the bridge
The activities were still going on through the night. At the same time a loud lava lake made itself attentive in the main cone T56 B, which was observed from us standing on a lava bridge. There was only one big problem. Assuming by us falsely, this bridge should have be of a good static condition.
On the photo you can see us standing on the bridge. Right: The first setting cracks of the weakened nature building already start s to get bigger.
To create the general tendency more precarious in our group - take the lava bridge inside the coneT56 B and step on it around 19:30, to recognise afterwards that this plateau was broken down half an hour later – completely!!!
our surprise no base pillar exists under this bridge and after the breakdown
the wild raving lava lake with a supposed diameter of 15 meters was offered to
us. If someone would have been on this natural cantilevered construction we
would have had a dead- surely barbecue at this
Now it is also understandable why
Day 5; free view into the lake
However, the collapse of the bridge had the big advantage that we had finally a free view on the lava lake. More respectfully we placed ourselves again at this place and recognised also that the cone wall partly broke down too. The picture from Martin shows the abruptly ending footprints at the edge. Nevertheless a marvellous sight. Standing inside cone the gurgling noise was amplified so strengthened that we did almost had problems understanding our own words. Nice to mention that from the distance (camp) the sound reminded me of a mild sea surf. Together with the full moon a great romantic atmosphere!
Gradually the T58 C comes again active, which means to stay the night awake. Night or 24h watches were our live insurances because in the case of a cone break the time of lava flooding can take less than 10 seconds. Fred Belton, made this bad experience 2002. The complete kitchen (tent) was buried under a huge lava flow.
Day 6: „Lava is coming to the camp!“
,If you have lava into the kitchen there is no time for bitching!'
„Lava is coming to the camp!“
Exactly this alarm I
and it was the reality.
Richard who stood
the whole night
in connection with Olivier and Fabian
by using walky talkys
was loudly announcing this volcanic attack.
Jumping out of the tent and running like hell I was overwhelmed of the first
sight. Two lava streams in precarious speed pushed toward to our tents.
However I noticed that the supply from the cone diminished - thus the actual
danger was banned. Remarkable was, that in this speed which I ran up to the
cones the lava streams lost their glowing luminosity. The flows stopped about
50 m before our tents
Without an announcement the south cone poured over, and in a rapid speed the lava covered completely the steep slope. Stationed on little plateaus the lava flowed around us - in addition you could enjoy still the thermal-visual stereo effect in the centre. This activity repeated itself the whole night and during the day.
The south cone over - flow
In an distance of 20 meters nearly all photographers were stationed over the whole night close to the happening. Standing with Olivier a little bit beside of the main track of the lava flush Martin, Fabian, Jeff and Richard selected the direct line of fire
The estimated speed of the outgoing lava came over 10 m/sec (video)
Without an announcement...
...the south cone spilt over, and in a rapid speed the lava covered completely the steep slope. Stationed on little plateaus the lava flowed around us - in addition you could enjoy still the thermal-visual stereo effect in the centre. This activity repeated itself the whole night and continued during the next day