Ol Doinyo Lengai

Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001

Following the first page showing the onset of the paroxysm at Hornito T49, we show in this one the unique spectacle Roby Carniel and Marco Fulle enjoyed during an unforgettable night, together with six other people (scientists, local guides and photographers) led by Fred Belton. At the bottom is the paroxysm's decline.

The power of this eruption allowed Marco and Roby to admire the unique transition from the lava's black colour in daylight to a unique dull orange colour in the night. The moonlight created scenery which may not be encountered again by human observers anytime soon. 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: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
25./28. July 11h, f=28mm. Lengai's crater before and during the paroxysm. The three active black lava flows reach the E rim (right), N rim (center) and our camp (left).
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
27. July 18h, f=135mm. In the evening the paroxysm reaches its climax at hornito T49D.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
19h, f=50mm. As evening twilight begins, alien red colours appear in the fountain of T49D and the lava lake T49E. You can enjoy also a closeup of top part of picture.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
19h, f=50mm. A bloody monster seems to be eating hornito T49B: the waterlike red lava falls are disappearing into grey solified tubes.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
19h, f=50mm. As the twilight darkens, the molten lava becomes brighter and brighter.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
19h, f=50mm. The lava jets of hornito T49D create a phantastic fan on the evening sky.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
20h, f=50mm. Sometimes the lava surges from T49B force the lava to pour out from its tubes.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
21h, f=28mm. While the left side of T49D has been covered by black fresh lava, its still white on the right side which is brighly lit by moonlight.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
22h, f=28mm. Is this a moonlit landscape of planet Earth or a view of liquid sulphur rivers and fountains on Io, Jupiter's moon?
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
22h, f=28mm. The sharp profiles of Lengai's hornitos create the most alien landscapes over molten lava rivers.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
28. July 05h, f=28mm. Orion rises over erupting T49B and T49D. On the left, from top to bottom: Aldebaran in Taurus, Saturn, Venus and Jupiter.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
06h, f=50mm. At dawn only T49D erupts still spectacularly generating a huge waterlike lava fall into a boiling pond.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
06h, f=50mm. This sequence of four photos allows to perfectly show the strange effects of blackbody light emission. Note the liquid rivulet at the top of the erupting fissure.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
The lava is moving so fast that it maintains exactly the same temperature all over. As colour and intensity are perfectly uniform it appears strangely «flat».
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
As twilight brightens, the fraction of reflected light with respect to emitted light increases. This allows us to see the fountain, for the first time, in some true perspective.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
Now most of the light is the reflected one, so what appeared before as a flat red patch becomes now a chaotic set of waterlike lava splashes.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
07h, f=50mm. The sun has risen, the spell is broken: the emitted red light is now so faint with respect to daylight, that the same molten lava fountain appears but grey.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
08h, f=135mm. Sometimes the lava outflow is so steady that it can make tubes of most phantastic shapes: how is it possible to construct such a perfect lava cast as the on top left?
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
10h, f=135mm. Andrew follows the huge lava flow towards the E rim: it has a cross section of more than one square meter and moves at about two meters per second.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
19h, f=28mm. At the evening, a surge of activity of the lava lake T49E feeds a river falling down the N slope. Moonlit Rift Valley and Lake Natron in the background.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
20h, f=28mm. Lava lake T49E (left) is periodically filled of boiling molten lava. Hornito T40 at left. The lava river from T49B on the right reaches the E rim in the background.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
20h, f=28mm. Another view of the lava lake T49E. In the sky, Alpha and Beta Centauri (left) and the Southern Cross (center) shine over T49B (left) and T49D (center), erupting lava in tubes.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
07h, f=135mm. If you are lucky only this and nothing worse happens to you when crossing a molten natrocarbonatite lava flow: Roby spent some anxious minutes searching for water to estinguish his burning trousers.
Photo Page: A night on an alien Planet? 25.-29. July 2001
29. July 07h, f=28mm. It seems the previous lesson did not teach Roby a lasting lesson: are we so sure the lava lake is fully «extinct» while he is indulging in the luxury of a Turkish bath?