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Eruptions that shook the world


Eruption in Eritrea 12 June 2011

Reports are coming in that one of the volcanoes of Eritrea, possibly Dubbi or Nabro, has erupted. Seismic records suggest three major events between 15:30 and 21:50 UTC on 12 June 2011. Loud explosions were heard in Afdera, across the border in Ethiopia, and ashfall is reported as far as Mekele in Tigray province.

Eruption in Eritrea

Figure 1. Dubbi volcano mantled by pumice (light toned) from the 1861 eruption and subsequent dark lava flows.

Eruption in Eritrea

Figure 2. Pumice and ash layers from the 1861 eruption of Dubbi.

Dubbi’s eruption in 1861 is the largest documented historic eruption in Africa. Despite the sparse population in this part of the Danakil region, it reportedly killed 175 people, probably as a result of searing “pyroclastic currents”. Nabro is part of a massive caldera system that straddles the Eritrean-Ethiopian border.

Eruption in Eritrea

Figure 3. Nabro volcano.


  • Wiart, P. & Oppenheimer, C., 2000, Largest known historical eruption in Africa: Dubbi volcano, Eritrea, 1861, Geology, 28, 291–294. Or e-mail Clive Oppenheimer for a PDF of the article
  • Wiart, P. & Oppenheimer, C., 2005, Large magnitude silicic volcanism in north Afar: The Nabro Volcanic Range and Ma‘alalta volcano, Bulletin of Volcanology, 67, 99–115. doi:10.1007/s00445-004-0362-x Or e-mail Clive Oppenheimer for a PDF of the article

Eruption in Eritrea

Figure 4. Satellite image of the eruption cloud.