Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Quake Triggers Volcanic Eruption in Ethiopia

IOL -- An earthquake, measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale, jolted northern Ethiopia on Tuesday, triggering another eruption of the previously dormant Mount Arteale, which has been spewing lava for several days, geologists said.

The quake, which struck the remote region of Afar, about 980km north-east of the capital, is the 11th temblor to rumble across the region since last month, they said.

"A quake, measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale, occurred in Teru (in Afar) and was followed by volcanic eruption," said Manahlo Belachew, an expert in the seismology department of Addis Ababa University.

"Quakes and eruptions have been monitored since September 18 at a small scale," he added.

On September 24, a quake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale caused the same volcano to erupt.

The earthquakes have damaged roads in the region's Teru and Dubti districts, making transportation difficult in a region largely inhabited by salt-mining Afar pastoralists, Ethiopian News Agency reported.

The only active volcano in Ethiopia has been largely dormant for the past six decades, but has been spewing molten lava since a series of earthquakes began rattling the region on September 18.

Large portions of Mount Arteale's slopes and its surrounding areas are covered in a thick blanket of ash and plumes of smoke, resulting in the displacement of more than 50 000 Afar nomads and the death of hundreds of livestock.

"This may complicate the plan for relocation and resettlements of affected people as the quake and volcano eruption is expanding or stretching further in all directions," Manahlo added.

Experts have said the tremors and eruptions are being caused by the expansion of tectonic plates under the Great Rift Valley, an area considered to be highly susceptible to earthquakes and volcanic activity.

Photo Credit: AFP

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