Ol Doinyo Lengai

Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001

Roby Carniel and Marco Fulle spent the week of 23.-30.7.2001 in the summit crater of Ol Doinyo Lengai. Although during the dry season some tourists reach the summit for one or two hours every week, the only way to see varied magmatic activity is to spend several days in the crater. This is done only once or twice per year by teams of scientists.

However, we believe that none of these ever observed what Roby and Marco had the luck to see: a huge paroxysm from a set of four vents lasting 36 hours and emitting lava at a rate of about 2-5 cubic meters per second. This amount would be typical of a moderate basaltic eruption, but it is enormous for the extremely fluid natrocarbonatitic lava of this volcano.

In this page, we show the start of the paroxysm. In another we document the unique spectacle during an unforgettable night when Roby and Marco felt as if they were on an alien planet. To give a sense of the perspective, camera lens focal lengths are given (i.e. f=28mm). As usual the pictures on this page link to larger photos (about 40 to 140 KB). All times are local (GMT + 3 hr).

Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001
23. July 07h, fish-eye photo (diagonal 180). Our Maasai porters climb Lengai while its great shadow extends over the Rift Valley.
Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001
24. July 18h, fish-eye photo (diagonal 180). Anticrepuscolar rays crown the phantastic landscape of Lengai's crater.
Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001
27. July 14h, f=28mm. The paroxysm starts with magma bubbles (top left) and lava falls (right towards Paulo) from T49C.
Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001
14h, f=135mm. The fall of water-like lava increases in strength, splashing down the hornito T49C slopes.
Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001
15h, f=135mm. Suddenly, after T49C and T49D, also the top of T49B starts to erupt a silvery foam of highly liquid lava.
Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001
15h, f=135mm. Magma bubbles explode at the top of T49B, while liquid drops of black lava fall down the hornito's white slopes.
Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001
16h, f=50mm. Fred Belton admires what even he could never have imagined: strong jets from T49D and effusive dome on T49B.
Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001
16h, f=50mm. Suddenly, also the lava lake T49E becomes active with strong fountains from its center, filling it in a few seconds.
Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001
16h, f=135mm. The effusive dome on T49B becomes a pulsating monster of silvery foam ejecting several cubic meters per second of molten lava.
Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001
17h, fish-eye photo (diagonal 180) from T40C top. Fred Belton (right of T49C) observes two lava flows advancing towards the N rim (right), while another is going towards the E rim (left).
Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001
17h, f=50mm from T40C top. At the paroxysm's climax, more than five cubic meters per second are ejected by the three violently active vents of T49.
Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001
17h, f=135mm from T40C top. Zoom on the fountain at the center of lava lake T49E, which is fed by an independent magma conduit.
Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001
17h, f=28mm from T40C top. A showcase of volcanological phenomena: effusive dome on T49B (left), lava jets from T49D (center top), lava fountain in lava lake T49E (center), and strombolian bursts from T49C (right).
Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001
17h, f=135mm. The jets from T49D became pulsed at times, so that the hornito seems to erupt chains of lava tears in the sky.
Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001
17h, f=28mm. Roby films the huge lava river which, for several hours, has disappeared into a fissure twenty meters from Lengai's E rim without reappearing anywhere: Where is all the lava going?
Photo Page Lengai 23. - 27. July 2001
17h, f=135mm. On the N rim, the lava flow from T49E descends the slopes of Lengai in spectacular falls for hundreds of meters. Rift Valley in the background.