First recorded eruption of Nabro volcano, Eritrea, 2011

Berhe Gezahegn*, Clive Oppenheimer, James O S Hammond, Raphaël Grandin, Talfan Barnie, Amy Donovan, Ghebrebrhan Ogubazghi, Ermias Yohannes, Goitom Kibrom, J. Michael Kendall, Simon A. Carn, David Fee, Christine Sealing, Derek Keir, Atalay Ayele, Jon Blundy, Joanna Hamlyn, Tim Wright, Seife Berhe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


We present a synthesis of diverse observations of the first recorded eruption of Nabro volcano, Eritrea, which began on 12 June 2011. While no monitoring of the volcano was in effect at the time, it has been possible to reconstruct the nature and evolution of the eruption through analysis of regional seismological and infrasound data and satellite remote sensing data, supplemented by petrological analysis of erupted products and brief field surveys. The event is notable for the comparative rarity of recorded historical eruptions in the region and of caldera systems in general, for the prodigious quantity of SO<inf>2</inf> emitted into the atmosphere and the significant human impacts that ensued notwithstanding the low population density of the Afar region. It is also relevant in understanding the broader magmatic and tectonic significance of the volcanic massif of which Nabro forms a part and which strikes obliquely to the principal rifting directions in the Red Sea and northern Afar. The whole-rock compositions of the erupted lavas and tephra range from trachybasaltic to trachybasaltic andesite, and crystal-hosted melt inclusions contain up to 3,000 ppm of sulphur by weight. The eruption was preceded by significant seismicity, detected by regional networks of sensors and accompanied by sustained tremor. Substantial infrasound was recorded at distances of hundreds to thousands of kilometres from the vent, beginning at the onset of the eruption and continuing for weeks. Analysis of ground deformation suggests the eruption was fed by a shallow, NW–SE-trending dike, which is consistent with field and satellite observations of vent distributions. Despite lack of prior planning and preparedness for volcanic events in the country, rapid coordination of the emergency response mitigated the human costs of the eruption.

Original languageEnglish
Article number85
JournalBulletin of Volcanology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2015


  • Afar
  • Danakil
  • InSAR
  • Nabro
  • Satellite remote sensing
  • Seismicity
  • Volcano monitoring


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