Dalaffilla Volcano | John Seach


(Gabuli, Dala Filla)
Erta Ale Range, Ethiopia

13.793 N, 40.553 E
summit elevation 613 m

Dalaffilla volcano is located south of lake Bakili, in the Afar region of Ethiopia. It has a steep cone with pastel colours. Dalaffillia is a rare colourful volcano. Dalaffilla is one of 6 volcanoes in the Erta Ale Range.

Dalaffilla volcano is the southeastern cone of a twin volcano (with Alu). The two volcanoes are part of the same volcanic system.

Dalaffilla is a central volcano with a perfect cone shape, rising to an altitude of 600 m (300 m above surrounding terrain). It was formed by eruptions of silicic lava.

November 2008 Eruption

The eruption of lava from Alu-Dalaffilla in November 2008 was the largest eruption in Ethiopia in historical times.

The main lava flows of Dalaffilla are to the east of the volcano, with the flows towards the west blocked by topography. The slope of the volcano is less at the base, and older lava flows seem to have been less viscous than the later ones. The summit is of very steep slope (~35 °) and was the result of viscous silicic lava flows. The crater is about 100 m in diameter.

Lava flows have been erupted through fissures along the median zone axis (Dalaffilla-Alu-Gada Ale). Numerous spatter cones are located over all this area aligned in chains.

August 2002 Earthquake Swarm
In August 2002 there was a sequence of earthquakes about 50 km SW of Dalaffilla volcano. Dalaffilla was the closest volcano to the earthquake epicentres. There were 75 earthquakes measured, with the largest having a magnitude 5.6.

Reports of 2008 Eruption by John Seach
Tuesday 18th November 2008

Satellite images have given conflicting results on the location of the eruption which began in northern Ethiopia on 4th November. ASTER satellite images show lava emitting from Alu fissure vents. MODIS satellite images indicate Dalaffilla stratovolcano. Wherever the lava originated from, it filled a depression between the two volcanoes and flowed north-east. Alu and Dalaffilla are essentially the same volcanic system being separated by only 3 km. It is rare for eruption sites so close to be named as separate volcanoes. The situation highlights the limitations in the definition and naming of volcanoes. At the other extreme there is Durango volcano in Mexico which covers 2100 sq km and contains 100 eruption sites, yet is called one volcano.

Wednesday 12th November 2008
Satellite images have shown that the sulphur dioxide plume from the eruption of Dalaffilla volcano in Ethiopia has dissipated over the Pacific, after traveling half way around the world. Some SO2 persists over the northern Indian Ocean, southern India, and Bay of Bengal. Hotspots continue to be recorded on the NW flank of Dalaffilla and up to 6 km NE of the volcano.

Monday 10th November 2008
The sulphur dioxide plume from the eruption of Dalaffilla volcano in Ethiopia has reached Marshall Islands in the Pacific after drifting SE from Japan. 

Saturday 8th November 2008
The sulphur dioxide plume from the eruption of Dalaffilla volcano in Ethiopia has reached Japan, a distance of over 9000 km.

Friday 7th November 2008
There is some debate over exactly which volcano erupted in Ethiopia this week. Satellite images show that a large lava flow originated from a region between Dalaffilla and Alu volcanoes in the Erta Ale Range. Alu and Dalaffilla are twin volcanoes separated by only 3 km. Alu volcano is ellipsoidal in shape, and built of old basaltic lavas. In contrast Dalaffilla is a steep cone built by eruptions of silicic lava. Some reports have assumed this week's large lava flow must have come from Alu volcano because it has produced basaltic lava flows before. However, satellite images have shown lava hotspots on the side of Dalaffilla volcano. Dalaffilla volcano as the source of the lava flows was confirmed by a researcher at Addis Ababa University. The summary is that an eruption of lava began at at Dalaffilla volcano in the Afar range of Ethiopia on Tuesday 4th November. The lava spread over a large area of at least 300 sq km, and this covered parts of Alu volcano. A sulphur dioxide plume drifted as far as Thailand more than 6000 km away.

Thursday 6th November 2008
Volcanic Eruption in Ethiopia An eruption in Ethiopia has been confirmed. Lava has covered a large area. Satellite images even indicate 300 sq km are covered by lava! The eruption originated from fissures between Dalaffilla and Alu volcanoes in the Erta Ale Range. A sulphur dioxide plume was measured on 5th November 2008 extending over the Arabian Peninsula, Pakistan and northern India.

Further reading
Venzke, E., Sennert, S.K. and Wunderman, R., 2009. Reports from the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Network, December 2008. Bulletin of Volcanology71(5), pp.593-594.

Dalaffilla Volcano Eruptions

The first historical eruption of Dalaffilla volcano occurred in November 2008.