Ol Doinyo Lengai

Name ID 462

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 03
Extract Date: -100000?

Parasitic cones and craters

Grey tuffs and agglomerates make up parasitic cones and craters on the outer slopes of Oldoinyo Lengai. They contain blocks of the older yellow agglomerates. Some are lithic tuffs, composed of small lapilli of nephelinite lava; others are crystal tuffs composed mainly of mica, pyroxene, nepheline and olivine crystals.

Extract ID: 4501

external link

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 01
Extract Date: -370000

Oldoinyo Lengai is young

Oldoinyo Lengai is less than 0.37 million (370,000) years old, and is the youngest big volcano in this part of the Rift Valley

Extract ID: 4499

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 04
Extract Date: 1250

Black tuffs

Black tuffs and agglomerates were laid down on a deeply eroded surface of the yellow pyroclasts. They occur on the lower slopes of the mountain and high on its western and north-western slopes. They include crystal tuffs (nepheline, pyroxene and mica), lithic tuffs (lapilli of nephelinite, ijolite and fenite) and agglomerates, with blocks of nephelinite, phonolite, urtite, ijolite and other alkaline rocks. These tuffs correlate with an ash in the Olduvai succession which is dated at about 1250 years. The earliest evidence for natrocarbonatite lava is found within these tuffs.

Extract ID: 4502

See also

Fosbrooke, Henry Arusha Integrated Regional Development Plan
Page Number: 117
Extract Date: 1856

The Slug Map

Paper IX: Early Maps of East Africa

This is a comprehensive endeavour by the missionaries Krapf and Erhardt to depict large areas of East and Central Africa including the Great Lakes. From the information at their disposal it appeared that one huge lake lay at the centre of the area. Their representation of this lake, depicted in Map 2A, suggested a slug, hence the popular name of the map.

The map itself has never been published but is in the possession of the Royal Geographical Society, London. The Map Curator of the R.G.S. has kindly provided a photo copy of the relevant portion of the map, exhibited as map 2B, stating that this is the best that can be made.

To bring out the salient points, the Survey and Mapping Division of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development undertook an enlargement (times 2) which accurately reproduces the features which are of particular concern to this story, but omits many others.

Ngorongoro and the Serengeti do not yet appear, but the whole of the country from north of Lake Natron to south of the Pare Mountains is assigned to ILMASAI.

Oldonyo Lengai is shown as "Snow Mt. (rain Mt.) Gods Mt.". "Kignea" and "Kilimanjaro" are also shown as snow mountains. The reason for including Lengai in this category is because mineral deposits which appear on the upper slopes of the volcano show upwith such brilliant whiteness as to give to the early observers the impression of snow.

It is of interest to note that the trade in soda from Lake Natron (though not named as such) was in existance at the time: "From where the Magad [soda] is bought."

Another point of interest depicted in the extreme north east corner of the map is a reference to a stream flowing into "the Ukerewa" I.e. Lake Victoria. It is noted that "This water tho' sweet is said to turn peoples teeth yellow". This is probably the first recorded reference to the fact, particularly noticeable around Mount Meru, that a high flourine [sic] content in the drinking water, does cause a brown stain to the teeth which cannot be removed.

The Map was presented to the Royal Geographical Society on 10th November 1855 by the missionary Erhardt. Its official title is as follows:

"Sketch of a Map from 1 & deg;N. to 15 & deg;S. Latitude and from 23 & deg; to 43 & deg;E. Longitude delineating the probably position and extent of the Sea of Uniamesi as being the continuation of the Lake Niasa and exhibiting the numerous heathen-tribes situated to the East and West of that great Inland-sea together with the Caravan routes leading to it and into the interior in general. In true accordance with the information received from natives - Representatives of various inland tribes - and Mahomidan inland traders. By the Revd. Messrs. Erhardt and F. Rebmann Missionaries of the Church Miss. Society in East Africa Kisaludini March 14 1855."

A paper published in German - J. Erhardt's Memoire Zur Erlauterung Der Von Ihm Und J. Rebmann, Zusammengestellten Karte Von Ost- Und Central-Afrika , (S.Tafel 1.) - gives further details of the country concerned. It is the first attempt at assessing the geographic position of the main geographic features of eastern Africa - Kilimanjaro, Lengai, Lake Victoria etc. by the length and direction of each days march undertaken by the trading caravans.

Extract ID: 3215

See also

Marsh, Zoe (editor) East Africa, through Contemporary Records
Extract Author: Erhardt and Rebmann
Page Number: 69d
Extract Date: June 1856

The 'Slug' Map - more detail

Ol Donyo Lengai and Kilimanjaro are both described as Mountains covered by snow.

Mount Meru is also shown.

A region is named Arusa.

Engaruka is marked.

To the west of Ol Donyo Lengai is shown a mountain called Bikiro.

Extract ID: 4053

See also

Smith, Anthony The Great Rift: Africa's Changing Valley
Extract Date: 1880

the twelfth. .

The last [eruption], in 1966, was the twelfth since 1880, and we may therefore be due for another. ...Lengai's 1966 eruption was much appreciated by photographers in light planes and most impressive to all who saw it.

Extract ID: 752

See also

Fosbrooke, Henry Ngorongoro: The Eighth Wonder
Page Number: 039c
Extract Date: 1882

Ol Doinyo Lengai

A.G. Fisher reported that Lengai was liable to eruption

Extract ID: 753

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 08
Extract Date: 1883

G.A. Fischer

The first scientific description of Oldoinyo Lengai was by G.A. Fischer in 1883. He observed "smoke" rising from the summit and recorded reports by local people of rumbling noises within the mountain (Fischer 1885, quoted in Dawson et al. 1995).

Extract ID: 4506

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 08a
Extract Date: 1904

First scientist to climb Ol Doinyo Lengai

The first scientist to climb to the summit crater was F. Jaeger in 1904.

Extract ID: 4518

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 18b
Extract Date: 4 August 1910

A horse-shoe-shaped southern rim

C. Uhlig and F. Muller climbed the volcano on 4 August 1910 and observed that "the northern crater had only a horse-shoe-shaped southern rim immediately below the summit, and lacked a crater rim to the north, west and east. The crater was more like a platform on which there was a central cone from which gas was being emitted".

Lava flows and pinnacles formed on this platform between 1904 - 1910 and again between 1913 - 1915.

Extract ID: 4519

See also

Sinclair, A.R.E and Norton-Griffiths, M (Editors) Serengeti: Dynamics of an Ecosystem

Eruptions have been recorded in 1917, 1921, 1940 etc

Eruptions have been recorded in 1917, 1921, 1940 and 1966.

Extract ID: 754

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 09
Extract Date: June 1917

Major explosive eruption

A major explosive eruption took place from January to about June 1917. Ash was deposited as much as 25 - 30 miles away, and killed the formerly luxuriant vegetation on the lower slopes of the mountain. The flat lava platform was replaced by a deep summit crater. Another eruption may have occurred for several months in 1926.

Extract ID: 4507

See also

Sinclair, A.R.E and Norton-Griffiths, M (Editors) Serengeti: Dynamics of an Ecosystem

Eruptions have been recorded in 1917, 1921, 1940 etc

Eruptions have been recorded in 1917, 1921, 1940 and 1966.

Extract ID: 754

See also

Crile, Grace Skyways to a Jungle Laboratory: An African Adventure
Page Number: 197
Extract Date: 6 January 1936

Moshi to Juba

WHEN we were called this morning, at five, I felt that the night had but begun, so heavily had I slept. It was still dark. The sun had not even begun to break. The electricity had not been turned on. The candlestick held half a candle but there were no matches. When finally we emerged from the black night of our room, there stood Kilimanjaro, towering into the sky, her mantle of clouds lightly tossed to one side, her snowy peak purple in the early dawn.

At the airport we learned that the Empire passengers had luckily been domiciled at Mrs. Stevens' lovely Two Bridges Inn for the night.

For some time we stood watching the four engines warm. They did not seem to be working uniformly. A few more adjustments, however, a cheery "Right-o," and we climbed into the plane and were off on such an early start that I think we caught all of Africa out on its early morning graze. I soon realized that when there was something interesting to see, our Captain was nodding our plane to the left or to the right, and the more important the sight, the more important the nod. We saw three groups of rhino, two lovely tawny lions, herds of eland-blue in the early morning light, keen-eyed hartebeests serving as sentinels-one from the top of a giant ant-hill, capering wildebeests, beautiful Grant's and Thomson's gazelles, herds of leaping impala, and no end of scampering wart-hogs-whole families of them, walking one behind the other, like so many little pigs going to market.

We flew so low and could see so clearly that it seemed as if we could hear not only the patterings of the hoofs but also the excited panting of hundreds of antelope as they leaped from under our plane and scattered to both sides of us as we winged our way. I felt a bit of sadness in looking down upon this beautiful Rift Valley in which we had now been twice. There on one side was Meru towering into the early morning haze, and on the other, Kilimanjaro and its eternal snows. There they were; there they ever have been; there they ever will be. It is that inalienable right to live that granite possesses that is so baffling.

As we passed over the high plateau of the velvety green escarpment I wished that, like the circus lady who jumps into the net, I might jump onto those soft, spreading branches and once again trek those jungles of tangled vines. I know they are shining in this early morning dew. I know that the fresh high grass is tied together with sparkling cobwebs, and that Madonna lilies, purple verbenas and scarlet foxglove still grow riotously in those grassy fields.

"See-there is Oldonyo-lengai," the Sacred Mountain of God. A mountain of silver it was in this early morning light, a dazzling pyramid of changing color, whose fine ash is ever being blown by the winds. Spellbound, half dreaming, I turned to the Chief and said, "Do you suppose we shall ever see this again?" Then I remembered the lure of Africa, how she ever calls one to trek again her limitless veldt, to see again the red-hot sun fall off the edge of the world, to feel again the chill of an African night, to hear again the chorus of lions and the answering laugh of the hyenas, and to experience again the beginning of a new day.

We reached Nairobi in time for breakfast, and by nine-fifteen were off for Kisumu at the extremity of the blue Victoria Nyanza, where we taxied in on a long run, changed planes, and stopped for an eleven thirty tea and sandwiches, served in a small room off the huge aerodrome.

Extract ID: 4532

See also

Sinclair, A.R.E and Norton-Griffiths, M (Editors) Serengeti: Dynamics of an Ecosystem

Eruptions have been recorded in 1917, 1921, 1940 etc

Eruptions have been recorded in 1917, 1921, 1940 and 1966.

Extract ID: 754

See also

Ngorongoro and the Serengeti Plains

From the rim of Empakaai crater

From the rim of Empakaai crater one can enjoy the superb view of the still intermittently active 'Mountain of God' [Ol Doinyo Lengai] , with the pale glimmer of Lake Natron beyond it and eight thousand feet below. The last eruption [as of ~1950] was in 1940, when at times a column of smoke, lit at night by glowing internal fires, rose as high again as the mountain to nearly 20,000 feet and spread a film of ash far and wide over the highlands and north Serengeti.

Extract ID: 756

See also

Fosbrooke, Henry Ngorongoro: The Eighth Wonder
Page Number: 039b
Extract Date: 1940

Eruption

I recall that in the case of the 1940 eruption the ash was so heavy on the Salei plains, and the mountains to the west, that the grazing became inedible and the Masai of that part had to migrate. The fallout, which is carried westward by the prevailing wind, extended as far west as Banagai, and affected wildlife as well as domestic stock.

Extract ID: 757

See also

Spinage. C.A. Animals of East Africa
Page Number: 24

Oldoinyo Lengai in Northern Tanganyika was last active in 1940

Oldoinyo Lengai in Northern Tanganyika was last active in 1940 and the larva within its core is still bubbling merrily away; . . . .

Extract ID: 2915

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 06
Extract Date: 1940/41

Grey semi-indurated tuffs

Grey semi-indurated tuffs, up to about one metre thick, consisting of nephelinite lapilli and mica plates cemented by carbonate. These tuffs overlie the stunted remains of trees and are tentatively assigned to the eruption in 1917 that killed off most of the forest on the outer slopes of Oldoinyo Lengai. Poorly consolidated black ash overlies the grey tuffs on the north, west and south slopes, and has also been observed at Olduvai Gorge, 45 miles to the west-southwest. The ash has formed spectacular barchan dunes; .... This was probably formed during the eruption in 1940/41.

Extract ID: 4504

See also

Source Unknown

no mentions of eruptions between 1940 and 1966 . . .

no mentions of eruptions between 1940 and 1966

Extract ID: 759

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 10
Extract Date: July 1940

First eruption with fairly complete record

The first eruption of which there is a fairly complete record took place between July and December 1940.

J. Richard's account of this eruption identifies three major phases

(1) a preliminary stage of small explosions that discharged old material from the vent,

(2) a phase during which great quantities of gas were discharged, preceded by violent explosions that ejected blocks and bombs,

(3) a phase during which mainly ash was ejected, but not to such great heights as during phase 2 (Richard 1942).

At the close of this eruption there was a deep funnel-like hole in the summit crater, the slopes of the volcano were blanketed with white ash, and ash had fallen as far west as Loliondo, about 100 kilometres away.

Extract ID: 4508

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 11
Extract Date: 1954

Minor eruptions

Minor eruptions of lava were observed in 1954, 1955 and 1958; a small eruption of ash may have occurred in early 1955.

Extract ID: 4509

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 07
Extract Date: 1954/55

deposits of soda ash

Variegated (light green, pale yellow, pink and white) deposits of soda ash, up to 20 feet thick on the southern wall of the summit crater. These may have formed in 1954/55.

Extract ID: 4505

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa
Page Number: 124
Extract Date: 1957

All that remained was to get down off the mountain

All that remained was to get down off the mountain. I had told Sylvia the probable day of our descent, but the Heim had delayed us a little. Imagine our great joy, when after jogging down for hour after weary hour, our legs like lead and our minds in neutral, we came round a bend and saw my landrover standing waiting with Sylvia sitting in it. She had driven up the appalling track as far as she dared, and had waited all day, just hoping we would appear. She earned our undying gratitude. That night we got cleaned up, had a wonderful meal, and slept like babies. Next day we went our separate ways. I have never seen David again, but have seen Ax on several occasions, and some years later we climbed together the active volcano Oldoinyo Lengai. He is now retired and living in California.

Extract ID: 5898

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Extract Author: -150000
Page Number: 02
Extract Date: 1960

J.B. Dawson mapped the volcano

J.B. Dawson mapped the volcano in 1960 (Dawson 1962) and established the following sequence, from oldest to youngest:

Yellow tuffs and agglomerates with interbedded lavas. These make up the main bulk of the volcano, the result of many episodes of explosive activity. The tuffs are made of crystals of nepheline and pyroxene, set in a fine-grained yellow matrix of zeolite, limonite and carbonate. The lava flows within the pyroclasts are composed of nephelinite and phonolite. These rocks have been correlated with rocks exposed in the Olduvai Gorge succession which range in age from about 0.15 to 0.4 Ma (Dawson et. al 1995).

Extract ID: 4500

See also

Else, David Trekking in East Africa
Extract Date: 1960's

Ol Doinyo Lengai

... Beyond lies Ol Doinyo Lengai (2878 metres), a classic volcanic cone ... still active. The last eruption was in the mid 1960's, and at the top of the mountain today you can see hot steam vents and growing ash cones. ...

Extract ID: 760

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 12
Extract Date: 1960's

Minor lava eruptions

Similar minor lava eruptions were recorded from several dates in the early 1960s; see the photographs [on the web site].

Extract ID: 4510

See also

Smith, Anthony Throw out two hands
Page Number: 155a
Extract Date: 1962

Second impressions

Field-glasses are satisfactory when confronted by this kind of spectacle. not just because they bring everything nearer, but because they destroy all misconceptions. Douglas and I could not see those wildebeest to begin with because we were not looking for ants, and our eyes glanced fleetingly over them. Through fieldglasses one looks for shapes, and shapes are therefore recognized, irrespective of their size. Even so, that crater appeared a most remarkable phenomenon.

It is the largest crater in the world. Its walls are steep, between 2,000 and 3,000 feet high, and it encloses an area of some 130-140 square miles - according to where it is reckoned that the crater floor ends, and the walls begin. No one knows how it came to be, for normal craters do not approach this size. A strong theory is that it used to be a tall volcanic mountain, with the 12-mile diameter being the size of its base. Then, due to some collapse of the Earth beneath it, the whole top fell inwards to form the saucer-shaped structure of today. The surrounding area is still volcanic, and the many mountains near by such as Meru and Kilimanjaro are extinct volcanoes with their subsidiary blow holes dotted about them. There is also one active mountain, the conical 0l Doinyo L'Engai. This sprouts out of the Rift Valley to the north-east of Ngorongoro, and becomes active in a minor way once every seven years or so. All this volcanic activity was fairly recent, but Ngorongoro is as inactive as they come.

Extract ID: 3747

See also

Smith, Anthony Throw out two hands
Page Number: 183b
Extract Date: 1962

'Good view'

To one side, now appearing small for the first time in our experience, was the Ngorongoro Crater. North of it were the steep rolling areas of the Crater Highlands, peeked with volcanoes like Embagai, and rising to 10,000 feet or more. Appearing still higher even than our basket was the active L'Engai, not smoking but flecked with white at the summit as if it were the conical roosting place of some monstrous and productive form of bird. Some 40 miles to the east of us was the big cliff drop to the Rift Valley, the Manyara lake, and the wide traverse of our previous endeavour. To the south were just hills and a lake and more hills, and a promise of at least 3,000 more miles before the massive continent comes to an end at the Cape. I do not fully understand the desires involved and of wishing to be levitated above the face of the Earth, but up in that basket at 10,500 feet above sea-level I felt supremely content. I shifted my feet, gazed fondly at Loolmalasin and Oldeani and then looked round at the others.

'Good view,' said Douglas.

Extract ID: 3756

See also

Smith, Anthony Throw out two hands
Page Number: 202
Extract Date: 1962

Nairobi to Ngorongoro

Hugh and I took off at 1 p.m. on the following day, and flew first over that Athi area. It was generally flat, but frequently there came deeply eroded gullies, exciting to look at, but depressing in their destruction. There was such a tenuous relationship between man, the animals and the rest of nature when nineteenth and twentieth-century man moved in to the area that disruption of the old order was inevitable. The great scars beneath us were the wounds of over-grazing. The red rivers were flowing with soil, and making this particular circle as vicious as any other.

Beyond the plains was the Rift Valley. There is nothing else like it on the surface of the Earth, but this section near Nairobi was different to the Manyara bit now indelibly engraved on at least three minds. Instead of one big cliff wall, there were many cliffs, each perpendicular, and each dropping the level of the land down another couple of hundred feet. Down in the bottom there was Lake Magadi, and then Lake Natron. Both are soda lakes, with the Magadi one being exploited. A special railway carries the soda away, and has a difficult time among those cliffs. No child ever takes his model railway up the stairs, but the Magadi track does just that, and must cover ten times the distance, from beginning to end, that actually separates the two points. It cannot emulate the crow, as we did, and as we began the long climb towards the Crater Highlands.

It was a most fantastic journey, for after the geological contortions of the Rift Valley, there came the 9443 feet peak of L'Engai, the area's active volcano. We edged noisily by its silent summit. The top looked something like the old glass type of orange squeezer, with a smaller pointed cone coming from the middle. Its sloping sides are as steep as its rocky lava will allow, and the way up is difficult. The mountain can be climbed but, like Mount Kilimanjaro which is not so far away, any climber has to take advantage of the chilliest hours when the loose and difficult scree is held together by frost. I think it important to see active volcanoes from time to time. They are most blatant reminders that we live our days on the thin crust of a planet which has by no means settled down from its fiery birth.

Shortly after nudging past L'Engai's cone, the Mountain of God according to the Masai, we were over the wide sweeps of the Crater Highlands. These link together several dead volcanoes, with Ngorongoro being one of them. Embagai is another, perhaps the most beautiful for it is well proportioned, with its woody sides leading down to a deep and permanent lake. And then we were over the final wall, and swooping about above Ngorongoro. We could see no sign of the others and, after buzzing the empty camp beneath the tree, landed near by. The animals had scattered on our first pass over the chosen area, and did not run in the way of the final touch down.

Hugh switched off the engine, and we climbed out into that remarkable place. I do not think one could ever cease to be amazed at it, but arriving in one hour and thirty minutes from Nairobi heightens its qualities most dramatically. Animals are all around, and beyond are the dots of countless more, and beyond them are those towering walls. At no time of the day does the crater look the same as at any other moment. Huge shadows retreat as the day advances, and then slink down again when the sun loses its power. It has all the symmetry of a perfect shape, and all the wonder of an untouched world. Like a ruin it combines the merits of having been created, and then having reverted to something finer still. It is a place of fabulous beauty.

Extract ID: 3770

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa
Page Number: 190 ff
Extract Date: 1963

The inner crater of Lengai

Extract ID: 5901

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa
Page Number: 201
Extract Date: 1963

An attempt on the ascent of Oldoinyo Legai

My plan was … an attempt on the ascent of Oldoinyo Legai, an active volcano in the Rift Valley south of Lake Natron. I was in touch with Ax Nelson again, and we planned the expedition together.

Extract ID: 5899

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa
Page Number: 206a

Ol Donyo Lengai

Back at the foot of the wall we were faced with the problem of ascent, to which we clearly had not given sufficient attention before descending. The heat was now intense. The equatorial sun was high in the heavens, and beat down vertically into the pit we were in. The white walls caught this and reflected this so that the light was dazzling. The terrestrial heat source into which we had ventured added its considerable quota of thermal energy. We felt we were being baked alive. How we got up that slope, I know not, but somehow we did, slipping and sliding, often thigh deep in bitter-smelling ash, and clawing at every piece or outcrop of firm hard larva that presented itself. We arrived at the top hot beyond belief and desperately thirsty. To quench our raging thirst and re-hydrate ourselves we had about a gallon of luke-warm water which was totally inadequate. We had planned to spend another night on the mountain, but this was now out of the question, and so we went straight down, reaching the Land-Rover in the late afternoon. Never did water taste so sweet as that which we had left in the vehicle. That night we camped again under our thorn-tree, and departed the next day, exploring one or two of the small cones and craters on the way out.

Extract ID: 3705

See also

Sinclair, A.R.E and Norton-Griffiths, M (Editors) Serengeti: Dynamics of an Ecosystem

Eruptions have been recorded in 1917, 1921, 1940 etc

Eruptions have been recorded in 1917, 1921, 1940 and 1966.

Extract ID: 754

See also

Saitoti, Tepilit Ole The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior

In the year 1966

In the year 1966, God, who my people believe dwells in this holy mountain, unleashed Her fury unsparingly. The mountain thunder shook the earth and the volcanic flame, which came from deep down in the earth's crust, was like a continuous flash of lightning. During days when the eruption was most powerful, clouds of smoke and steam appeared. Many cattle died and still more would die. Poisonous volcanic ash spewed all over the land as far as a hundred miles away, completely covering the pastures and the leaves of trees. Cattle swallowed ash each time they tried to graze and were weakened. They could not wake up without human assistance. We had to carry long wooden staffs to put under the fallen animals to lift them up.

There must have been more than enough reason for God to have unleashed Her anger on us, and all we could do was pray for mercy. My pastoral people stubbornly braved the gusting warm winds as they approached the flaming mountain to pray. Women and men dressed in their best walked in stately lines towards God, singing.

The mountain was unappeased and cattle died in the thousands. Just before the people started dying too, my father decided to move; as he put it, 'We must move while we still have children, or else we will all lose them.'

Extract ID: 761

See also

Amin, Mohamed; Willetts, Duncan and Marshall, Peter Journey Through Tanzania

ol Doinyo Lengai

Ol Doinyo Lengai erupted in 1966 and 1983

Extract ID: 3682

See also

Lilla N. Lyogello A Guide to Tanzania National Parks

Ol Doinyo Lengai .... is still an active volcano

Ol Doinyo Lengai .... is still an active volcano, and erupts every twelve to fifteen years. There was an eruption in 1966 and another in 1979.

Extract ID: 763

See also

Amin, Mohamed; Willetts, Duncan and Marshall, Peter Journey Through Tanzania
Page Number: 151

erupted in 1966 and 1983

Ol Doinyo Lengai erupted in 1966 and 1983...

Extract ID: 765

See also

Ngorongoro's Annual Report
Page Number: 28a
Extract Date: 1966

The death of game

The death of game around Empakaai Crater, in close proximity to Lengai, can only be explained in relation to this year's eruption of the volcano. The ash from Lengai covered the grass with a coat of up to three-quarters of an inch on the rim of Empakaai Crater. Game and cattle could not get under the ash to feed and it would appear that the animals either starved to death or succumbed from toxic properties in the ash,

Extract ID: 3922

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 14
Extract Date: August 1966

Major Acticity

During the climb on 21st August, the lower slopes were covered with about half an inch of new, snow white ash which reached a thickness of about 2 inches closer to the summit. The active crater was full of swirling ash and dust. In it was a new ash cone in whose summit was a shallow bowl-shaped pit about 100 yards in diameter. In the centre of this pit was a small double vent from which there was a continuous discharge of gas and whitish-grey ash and dust. There was a continuous roaring noise and a strong smell of sulphur. Ash was scattered all over most of the inside of the crater and there was about 6 inches of new black ash on the outer slopes of the east rim. The crater was observed from 10.30 a.m. to 1.50 p.m., during which period no lava extrusion was seen, and the ejected material was not larger than ash size.

The photograph [see web site] (taken by Gordon Davies) shows the active crater in August 1966.

At 2.45 p.m. on 21st August there was a violent harsh explosion and a dense column of black ash rose vertically above the crater. A series of loud explosions occurred at intervals of less than 15 seconds, each one accompanied by the expulsion of more ash. This continued until about 4.0 p.m., when the explosions ceased, though the ejection of ash continued all that day and throughout the night.

At 11.30 a.m. on 22nd August, when these observations ended, the pine-tree shaped cloud of a Plinian-type eruption was towering above the volcano.

On the morning of 23rd August activity had almost ceased; only a small amount of ash was rising to a few hundred feet above the volcano. The ash cone within the northern crater had grown higher.

On 1st September another violent ash eruption was reported.

On 3rd and 4th September activity continued; a column of ash rose above the volcano and drifted away to the north. The summit crater was almost infilled with ash, though there was still a deep pit in its centre. On 11th October the volcano was still active; the local Maasai pastoralists and the wild game animals had moved out of the area, probably because the water and grazing supplies were contaminated by the ash. The photograph [see web site] , taken by Joan Westenberg in August 1966, shows the thickness of ash on the lower slopes of the volcano.

Ash fall was reported as far as Seronera (130 km west), Loliondo (70 km north-west) and Shombole (70 km north).

On 28th October the volcano was seen to be covered with white ash, and was still active, with a light plume of ash blowing away to the north-west.

Observations in late December 1966 and on 1st January 1967 established that there was no activity.

A major explosive eruption was reported on 8 - 9th July 1967. Ash fell at Arusha (110 km southeast) and at Wilson Aerodrome in Nairobi, 190 km to the northeast. After this the volcano seems to have remained dormant for several years. Click here to see what happened in 1983.

Extract ID: 4512

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa
Page Number: 206b
Extract Date: 1967

Ol Doinyo Lengai

The mountain [Ol Doinyo Lengai] as it was in 1963 on our visit is no more, for in 1967 [sic] there was another major eruption, and to judge from air photographs I have seen since, it appears that our crater has been filled in by the event. Our visit had been for us an enormously impressive and mind-stretching venture. We felt we had been privileged to be allowed to reach out and touch something utterly primeval, outside and beyond the human scale of things: a very moving and humbling experience.

Extract ID: 762

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 16
Extract Date: 8 July 1967

Major explosive eruption

A major explosive eruption was reported on 8 - 9th July 1967. Ash fell at Arusha (110 km southeast) and at Wilson Aerodrome in Nairobi, 190 km to the northeast.

After this the volcano seems to have remained dormant for several years.

Extract ID: 4514

See also

Matthiessen, Peter The Tree Where Man Was Born
Extract Date: 1972

Salei Plain

Leaving camp [at Nasera, also spelt Naisera] and the truck behind, we went eastward down the valley, taking along a driver and two rangers. ... The valley was much rougher than expected, and two hard hours passed before we came to a rise that descended onto the Salei Plain. To the south, in a kingdom of black rains, the Crater Highlands mounted toward the rim of Ngorongoro, thirty miles away; away from the Ngorongoro road, the Crater Highlands, girt by dead volcanoes that rise ten thousand feet and more into their clouds, are little known. Northeast was the rim of the escarpment, and beyond it, and far below lay the great lonely Lake Natron, stretching away to the Kenya border. Straight ahead, lost in the clouds, Ol Doinyo Lengai rose nearly ten thousand feet from the Rift Valley floor.

The Salei Plain, which forms a broad step between the Gols and the brink of the escarpment, is a bitter place of tussock and coarse bush that rises from grey cindery ash of the volcanoes, and for a time it seemed that its creatures were all solitary - one hyena, one giraffe, a rhino - as if only here, in this land too poor to support predators, such outcast animals could survive. The big coarse grass, too high to walk through with impunity, hid stones that could gut a car, and progress, which had been slow all morning, became slower still. In eleven hours of lurching and jarring, with one half-hour stop, we were to travel less than eighty miles.

... The Land-Rover retreated westward, toward the east face of the Gols.

... Under the cliffs was a Somali track, headed south toward the mouth of the Ngata Kiti, where we climbed out of the Salei in late afternoon. Soon the air was cool, and we paused on the slope, gazing back toward Lengai, which had come up out of its clouds to watch us go. The Mountain of God is a magnificent pure cone, a true mythic volcano, shrouded in pale ash so fine that it mists into the canopies of clouds, making the whole mountain an illusion.

Now the sun appeared, and the air dried; the pale tones of Ngata Kiti came to life.

... Three miles from Nasera, we got down from the Land-Rover to walk home. Today we were beaten, but another day we would come back.

Extract ID: 3671

See also

Lilla N. Lyogello A Guide to Tanzania National Parks

Ol Doinyo Lengai .... is still an active volcano

Ol Doinyo Lengai .... is still an active volcano, and erupts every twelve to fifteen years. There was an eruption in 1966 and another in 1979.

Extract ID: 763

See also

Amin, Mohamed; Willetts, Duncan and Marshall, Peter Journey Through Tanzania

ol Doinyo Lengai

Ol Doinyo Lengai erupted in 1966 and 1983

Extract ID: 3682

See also

editors East Africa

the mountain relieved some of the pressures

In 1983 the mountain relieved some of the pressures still at work under the rift by blowing up, and in the process coated its 610-metre cone with an alkaline lava which, on contact with the air, immediately turned to crystals of sodium carbonate - washing soda.

Extract ID: 764

See also

Hanby, Jeannette & Bygott, David Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Page Number: 10
Extract Date: 1983

Ol doinyo Lengai

... it last erupted in 1983, and could erupt again any day.

Extract ID: 766

See also

Amin, Mohamed; Willetts, Duncan and Marshall, Peter Journey Through Tanzania
Page Number: 151

erupted in 1966 and 1983

Ol Doinyo Lengai erupted in 1966 and 1983...

Extract ID: 765

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 17
Extract Date: 1983

Small ash eruptions

From January to March 1983 a number of small ash eruptions occurred; in mid-February there was a slight fall of fine grey ash at Olduvai Gorge, 65 km to the west.

John Fanshawe and Harvey Croze took photographs from the air in early April 1983; [see web site] There was a lava flow reaching about two thirds across the floor of the pit crater and two small black cones with open vents at the base of the north wall.

Extract ID: 4515

See also

Smith, Anthony The Great Rift: Africa's Changing Valley
Extract Date: 1983-5

Minor activity

Minor activity has continued since then. January to March 1983 witnessed, according to one report, 'moderate quantities' of pale grey ash emerging from the crater floor. During May 1984 there were two vents on the floor's north side that 'contained a black bubbling liquid'. Three months later a 'dark grey to black, ropy, mud-like crust' had formed over the inner surface of the crater. By February 1985 a lake, 'boiling vigorously', covered a quarter of the crater's floor.

Extract ID: 767

See also

Smith, Anthony The Great Rift: Africa's Changing Valley

'three small peaks'

In 1986 there were 'three small peaks', each about 7.5 metres high. In other words, although without a major eruption, the volcano is far from dead. It simmers, it bubbles, it rumbles occasionally, and forever changes its appearance, particularly on that crater floor. Many believe that Lengai is due for another eruption, an exciting event for all save those present at the time with a most unenviable ring-side seat.

Extract ID: 768

See also

Smith, Anthony The Great Rift: Africa's Changing Valley

Summary of recorded eruptions

Summary of recorded eruptions (mainly from Smith, but also other sources)

1940

??no mentions between 1940 and 1966

1966

twelfth since 1880

1979

recorded by Lyogello, but not in other sources

1983 Jan-Mar

"moderate" ash

1984 May

two vents in North side

1984 Aug

crust over inner surface of crater

1985 Feb

boiling lake

1986

3 small peaks

Extract ID: 3708

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 18
Extract Date: July 1988

Lava flow

Between July and October 1988 lava began to flow southwards across the Saddle into the Southern Depression.

The photograph [on the web site] was taken from the southern summit by Martin Smith in October 1988 and shows how lava (already white when this photograph [on the web site] was taken in October 1988) has spilled over the Saddle and begun to fill the floor of the Southern Depression. The photograph to the right [on the web site] was taken by Celia Nyamweru about a month later and looks almost due east along the Saddle. A large vent (T11) has opened just north of the saddle and during our visit to the crater we observed lava flowing southwards from this vent on several occasions. At times when the hot lava came into contact with vegetation on the slopes around the Southern Depression it started small brush fires.

Activity continued within the crater in the early 1990s. Lava cones built up at different locations on the crater floor. The photograph to the left below [on the web site] , taken by Celia Nyamweru in August 1990, shows T14 which was active in August 1990; note the contrast between the white side of the cone which is several months old and the fresh black material that was being erupted as the photograph was taken. Lava flows continued to build up the level of the crater floor and to flood across the former line of the Saddle, creating a single oval crater in place of the former northern pit crater and southern depression.

Extract ID: 4516

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 19
Extract Date: jun 1993

Maasai move their livestock

We do not have a detailed eyewitness account of the events in May-June 1993, but from interviews with people who were near the volcano at the time, and photographs by Martin Kuper of Zurich it is possible to put together a reasonable picture of what happened.

Minor activity occurred through April 1993, and there are reports of a loud explosion near the summit on about 22 May.

During an ascent on 8 June 1993 Burra Gadiye observed that T20, a cone in the centre of the crater floor, had grown considerably. Also a large amount of steam was escaping from a crack on the west slope of the volcano, a few hundred metres below the west rim. Burra reported feeling an earthquake on 14 June and dark, dense plumes from the crater could be seen from Ngare Sero, the village about 10 kilometres north of Oldoinyo Lengai.

Maasai herdsmen moved their livestock out of the area. On 15 June Burra climbed the west slope but was unable to reach the rim, being stopped by flowing lava in the approximate vicinity of the steam on 8 July. Dark ash was being erupted from within the summit crater on 15 June, and again on 18, 21 and 25 June.

When a party from St. Lawrence University climbed the west slope on 27 June, we observed no ash clouds from the crater, though there was a strong smell of sulfur detectable from far below the crater rim. There was a light dusting (maximum about 2 mm thick) of fine gray ash on the outer slopes, and a lot of dead vegetation on the upper slopes. Steep rock slabs a few hundred metres below the rim were covered with several centimetres of loose ash, making climbing very difficult. It was not possible to proceed up the path to the rim, as it was blocked by slabs of lava, by now cold and solid.

Extract ID: 4517

See also

BBC Television
Extract Author: Alan Root
Extract Date: 1996

Ol Doinyo Lengai has been active

on Safari with Jonathan Scott Over the Serengeti, BBC TV

[Ol Doinyo Lengai] has been active in the last few months [1996]

Extract ID: 769

See also

Smith, Anthony The Great Rift: Africa's Changing Valley
Extract Date: 1880

the twelfth. .

The last [eruption], in 1966, was the twelfth since 1880, and we may therefore be due for another. ...Lengai's 1966 eruption was much appreciated by photographers in light planes and most impressive to all who saw it.

Extract ID: 752

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 13
Extract Date: 14 August 1966

Eruption observed by airline pilots

This eruption was first observed by airline pilots on 14th August 1966, and two geologists, J.B. Dawson and G.C. Clark, visited the volcano six days later and climbed to the active crater rim on 21st August.

The following description of the eruption is drawn from the account by Dawson, Bowden and Clark published in 1968. They first sighted the volcano at 2.30 p.m. on 20th August 1966, when "a Vulcanian-type eruption was in progress. A thick column of black ash was rising for approximately three thousand feet above the volcano and, due to the dominantly southerly wind, was drifting away northwards towards lake Natron; the ash fall was very heavy on the upper northern slopes of the volcano" (page 868).

Extract ID: 4511

See also

Nyamweru, Celia Oldoinyo Lengai Web Site
Page Number: 15
Extract Date: 28 October 1966

Covered with white ash

On 28th October the volcano was seen to be covered with white ash, and was still active, with a light plume of ash blowing away to the north-west.

Observations in late December 1966 and on 1st January 1967 established that there was no activity.

Extract ID: 4513

external link

See also

Belton, Frederick A. Ol Doinyo Lengai: The Mountain of God
Extract Date: Oct 2002

Tomb Raiders II

Paramount Pictures shot footage for the film "Tomb Raiders II" in the crater of Lengai, using helicopters for access. Unfortunately the footage shot in the crater was very brief. One scene showed Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) climbing out of a vent in the crater floor. I am pretty certain that vent was T49F, which destroyed the "Kitchen" in Aug 2002.

Extract ID: 4497

external link

See also

Belton, Frederick A. Ol Doinyo Lengai: The Mountain of God
Extract Date: Feb 1, 2003

Observations

During a morning fly-over of the crater, Brian Rippon made some excellent photographs which can be seen at http://www.rippon.net/lengai/index.htm. What follows here are my own observations of Brian's photos.

"The pictures show an active lava flow originating from T58’s summit area and from a vent lower down on its NW flank. The lava is flowing around the NE side of T49B and T49C toward the NW rim overflow. Little change can be seen, in comparison to my August visit, in the shapes of the T37 cones, T45, T51, T47, T49C, T49B, or T40. A large circular vent is visible in the NE part of T40 and a higher, smaller vent exists just SW of it.

It appears that T57 and T57B have merged into one broad cone, primarily due to growth of T57B. A saddle separates T57B from a ridge to the SW. It appears that the ridge has formed by the merging of T58, T56 and a new cone (with double peaks) that has grown between T58 and T48. (Chris Weber has tentatively designated the new cone as T58B based on a Sept 26, 2002 photo by Celia Nyamweru.)

It is clear that the center of activity in the recent past before Feb 1 has been in and around T58. T58 has now completely covered up T52B. I cannot see T48 or T55; they may have become incorporated into T58 or T58B. T49 also seems to be gone, possibly covered with lava flows from the T58 group. T40C is still visible but looks low and is surrounded by recent lava flows. In another photo (not shown) I see what might be the low vent opening of T49F at the west base of T49B. It appears to be unchanged from August 2002."

Extract ID: 4498

See also

Arusha Times
Extract Author: Valentine Marc Nkwame
Page Number: 414
Extract Date: 8 April 2006

Oldonyo L'engai : 3000 flee as 'Mountain of God' erupts

The legendary Oldonyo L'engai, the land feature believed to be 'Mountain of God' by locals, has unleashed its fury through a major volcanic eruption, the first ferocious to be recorded since 1966.

Hundreds of villagers, who live around Oldonyo L'engai which is found within the Ngorongoro district, had to flee from their residential areas, following the massive eruption of volcano, an occurrence that is believed to be one of the fiercest, in history and surpasses even the previous record of 1966.

Local people estimated to be about 3000 in total, hailing from, five villages namely: Nayobi, Magadini, Engaruka, Malambo, Ngaresero, Gelai-bomba and Kitumbeine, had no choice but to flee after the 'Mountain of God' roared spitting out red-hot rivers of molten rock and spewing scalding fumes and 'iron melting' lava all over the locality.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) has already issued a warning, ordering tour operators not to take tourist or even venture anywhere near the 'Mountain of God' since doing so would put the lives of the visitors at risk.

Ibrahim Ole Sakay a 41 year old resident of Ngaresero recounted the incident saying the eruption of volcano that caused havoc around Oldonyo Lengai first took place in the night of March 24 and repeated the following day. Later however, the Mountain continued rumbling and spitting lava for more than a week.

Although the volcano claimed no human life, it destroyed trees, bushes, crops and other forms of vegetation as the burning hot lava gushed through the area on the mountain slopes and the later dried up Magma measured up to a radius of three kilometers long.

Ngorongoro District Commissioner, Captain Assey Msangi, initially said the volcano eruption was a common phenomenon at the Oldonyo L'engai mountain. However the DC who was contacted by phone had at that time not yet received the report regarding the happening. As it turned out, this year's incident was not the ordinary minor volcanic actions, that the locals are normally used to.

The history of Oldonyo L'engai eruptions officially started to be documented in 1917 when a major explosive eruption took place from January to about June that year. Ash was deposited as much as 25 to 30 miles away, and killed the formerly luxuriant vegetation on the lower slopes of the mountain. The flat lava platform was replaced by a deep summit crater. Another eruption may have occurred for several months in 1926.

Another eruption was in 1940 , when at times a column of smoke, lit at night by glowing internal fires, rose as high again as the mountain to nearly 20,000 feet and spread a film of ash far and wide over the highlands and north Serengeti. In the 1940 eruption the ash was so heavy on the Salei plains, and the mountains to the west, that the grazing became inedible. The Maasai of that part had to migrate. The fallout, which is carried westward by the prevailing wind, extended as far west as Banagai, and affected wildlife as well as domestic stock.

Ol Doinyo Lengai is a unique and fascinating volcano that is located in the African Rift valley about 120 km north-west of Arusha, Tanzania. It is the only volcano in the world that erupts natrocarbonatite lava, highly fluid lava that usually contains almost no silicon.

Natrocarbonatite lava is also much cooler than other lavas; being only about 950 degrees F (510 degrees C) compared to temperatures over 2000 degrees F (~1100 degrees C) for basaltic lavas. Natrocarbonatite is the most fluid lava in the world.

During the day it is not incandescent; most flows look like very fluid black oil, or brown foam, depending on the gas content. Oldoinyo Lengai is less than 0.37 million (370,000) years old, and is the youngest big volcano in this part of the Rift Valley. The first scientific description of Oldoinyo Lengai was by researcher, G.A. Fischer in 1883. He observed "smoke" rising from the summit and recorded reports by local people of rumbling noises within the mountain.

Explorers C. Uhlig and F. Muller climbed the volcano on 4 August 1910 and observed that "the northern crater had only a horse-shoe-shaped southern rim immediately below the summit, and lacked a crater rim to the north, west and east. The crater was more like a platform on which there was a central cone from which gas was being emitted".

Ol Doinyo L'engai is 2878 metres high.

Extract ID: 5126

See also

Arusha Times
Extract Author: Arusha Times Reporter
Page Number: 415
Extract Date: 15 April 2006

Visitors flock Oldonyo Lengai despite warning

Despite being warned not to venture anywhere near the mountain, hundreds of tourists and other visitors are flocking around Oldonyo L'engai whose active volcano has recently been erupting fiercely.

Tourists are reported to be excited by the volcano eruption and the incident is making the 'Mountain of God' more popular than it used to be when the volcano was quiet.

Contrary to earlier press reports, a statement by Arusha's Regional Commissioner Abbas Kandoro issued on April 10 says it was only one family that has been relocated from the area and so far no damage has been caused by the eruption that occured end of March and early this month.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) had recently issued travel advisory, warning local tour operators not to take tourists near 'Oldonyo Lengai Mountain' following the recent major volcanic eruptions in the area. The NCAA Public Relations and Information officer, Vincent Mbirika said they decided to alert the tour operators because of the possibilities of further eruptions.

"Tour operators have been warned not even venture anywhere near 'Oldonyo Lengai since doing so would put the lives of our dear visitors at risk", said Vincent Mbirika. "We have resolved to take this pre-caution because it is not known, when another eruption is set to occur or how extensive may it be," he added.

The alert came after a joint meeting between the NCAA officials and the National security department which addressed tourists and public safety.

"Operators should take into consideration that human lives are more valuable than anything. Therefore despite the fact that they may need money from tourists, the issue of their safety is paramount and should not be taken for granted." stressed the NCAA spokesperson.

The advisory also warned the local people living around the mountain to vacate for their safety. But of late more and more tourists continue to flock near Oldonyo Lengai , all of whom hoping to capture any possible eruption 'live'.

The majority of the tourists are interested to physically witness the re-occurrence of a rare volcano eruption. About two weeks ago, Oldonyo L'engai ( Mountain of God) roared into massive volcanic eruption, forcing about 3,000 residents from seven local villages to flee from the area for their safety.

Oldonyo Lengai is the only remaining active volcanic mountain in Tanzania and its last significant eruption was in 1983. The Masai tribe believes their deity resides on top of the mountain in the African Rift Valley.

Meanwhile, Oldonyo Lengai which early this month unleashed its fury discharging lava and fire has subsided but still active.

A tourist who this week climbed the mountain with four other colleagues told the The Arusha Times on Tuesday the emitted lava had now cooled down but still pushing towards lower slopes where homesteads are located.

"Bomas are still in danger as lava is flowing slowly," he said. Flows of lava are as close as about 50 metres from some homesteads.

Despite earlier threats from last week's fierce eruption, people are raising cattle in the lower slopes.

A team of scientists from the University of Dar es Salaam last week visited the area to study the latest eruption believed to be the most ferocious since 1966.

Extract ID: 5128

See also

Arusha Times
Extract Author: Canute Temu
Page Number: 482
Extract Date: 18 Aug 2007

Mountain of God tremor destroys Heritage Building in Kilema

The recent earthquake whose epicenter was near Mt Oldonyo Lengai in Arusha had a devastating effect in the quiet ward of Kilema, Moshi rural district of Kilimanjaro Region.

The Old Heritage Building, built by Catholic Missionaries from the Alsace Lorraine between 1890 and 1895 was damaged extensively. The building which had been used as an educational centre since its inception suffered structural damage, necessitating it to be evacuated.

The structure was built by hand cut stones and mud and later painted with cement. The structure has neither steel columns nor beams which made it susceptible to cracks which appeared from top to bottom.

The over one hundred years old stone beams have given way and seem to be coming off the walls, which could lead to a collapse, come another tremor.

When this writer visited the structure he found a worried Ward Educational Officer in the empty building contemplating his next move. District officials have advised that the building be evacuated. Pupils will now use an alternative location awaiting the demolition of the old structure and construction of a new building in its place.

The pupils have consequently moved to an old dilapidated wooden and concrete structure, which is clearly in need of massive rehabilitation. Whether the parents will manage this on their own is an issue that needs attention while the authorities ponder how to assist in this calamity that happened a couple of hundred of kilometers from the earthquake epicenter which shook the Mountain of God (Oldonyo le Ngai) on 18 th July this year.

Already there are other moves to request UNESCO to declare the old structures in Kilema World Heritage Buildings, an adoption which could attract financial support for rehabilitation. The structures could still be saved if a swift decision is made, observed one villager.

Extract ID: 5441

See also

Arusha Times
Extract Author: Arusha Times Correspondent
Page Number: 510
Extract Date: 22 March 2008

Thousands flee from ‘Mountain of God’

Human crisis seen as inevitable

In the past they defied orders from the government to evacuate from areas surrounding Oldonyo Lengai on grounds that for generations they were familiar with volcanic ash from the vents atop the mountain.

But, nine months after the mountain has continuously been emitting smoke into the sky and molten rock on its slopes, many residents need not to be told by anyone to move away for safety reasons.

Reports from the area, one of the most inhospitable terrains due to scorching temperatures and remote as well, say many people who have lived around the 'mountain of God" are now calling it quits.

Government authorities in Ngorongoro district have confirmed that many residents are now moving away to settle in other villages which are a safe distance from the active volcano.

Ngorongoro MP Saning'o Ole Telele told reporters last weekend that up to 5,000 people may have moved out of the area for fear of being affected by the volcanic ash and hot lava.

He said some of those who have fled include those who have lived around Oldonyo Lengai for many years. They are reported to have relocated from the area with their livestock herds.

Many of them have re-settled in Ebwati, Nainokanoka, Ekipisu and Malambo villages in Ngorongoro district and Silalei and Mto-wa- Mbu villages in neighbouring Monduli villages.

Others have gone to Gelai, Gelaibombwa na Chumvini villages which are a safe distance from the "smoking mountain'' and east of Lake Natron.

Those fleeing, says, Mr. Ole Telele, did so fearing the effects of the mountain behaviour, having spewed smoke almost continuously since July last year.

According to the Ngorongoro legislator, himself born there, the revered mountain on the Great Rift Valley bed has not behaved the way it did this time around.

"This is the first time for many years that we have seen the mountain spewing ash and lava continuously for such long time. The situation has been compounded by the earthquakes" he added.

The eruption of the mountain, believed to have been triggered by a series of earthquakes, that battered northen regions since last July, may appear a natural phenomenon but can lead to humanitarian crisis.

It has led to, among other things, food crisis because those displaced had to be supported by relatives in their villages of destination.

Many men have also abandoned their homesteads to seek jobs in towns and trading centres.The mountain and the adjacent Lake Natron are about 250 kilometres north west of Arusha.

The displacement due to volcanic eruption has come at a particularly unfavourable time. Oldonyo Lengai area and the entire Maasailand is reeling under prolonged dry spell this year.

The government has not been quiet all along since the crisis began last year.

First it advised people to keep away from the mountain especially during the height of the earthquakes and when it started erupting.

Several teams of officials, including those responsible for disaster management under the Prime Minister's Office, have been there many times trying to assess the situation.

Those told to keep away included the tourists who are fond of being to the area, Oldonyo Lengai being the only active volcano in East Africa.

Those who spoke to journalists who visited the area after first reports of eruption, played down dangers from the mountain, maintaining that the phenomenon was common.

Those who opposed what they called "alarmist" calls criticised the authorities of making statements in order to scare away tourists. The industry supports a handful of people there.

But it did not take long before a tour guide who was taking tourists atop the mountain on fire was himself severely burnt by the hot magma flowing from high on the mountain.

Few weeks later, it was the turn of the pastoralists. Their livestock were affected by volcanic ash and dust. Some are reported to have fallen sick or died.

For the nomadic pastoralists, that was enough excuse to stick to the tradition; looking for greener pastures for the animals when something has gone wrong around their living spot.

As if that was not enough, towards the end of last year there were reports of people suffering from the effects of volcanic ash and continued to be worried by a spate of earth tremors.

The 2,951 metre ( 9,440 feet) high mountain, one of the highest in Tanzania, simply refused to stop emitting smoke and lava, something never experienced before, at least in "recent" geological times.

Only two weeks ago, two high level government delegations visited the area to get first hand information on the situation.

One team was led by the minister of state in the Vice President's Office responsible for Environment Dr. Batilda Buriani and another by Phillip Marmo, the minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office (Paliamentary Affairs).

Upon return to Arusha, Dr. Buriani, who took over the environment portfolio during the recent cabinet reshuffle, admitted that the sitatution on Oldonyo Lengai was still disturbing.

This is the first time the mountain was emitting smoke and hot lava continuoulsy for a long time. The last time it did so was in 1966 and 1967 but lasted for only six months.

"Experts must establish as to why the mountain behaved this way unlike in the past," she said after spending the whole day near the mountain and Lake Natron, whose highly alkaline waters is attributed to ash spewed from Oldonyo Lengai.

The minister witnessed for herself the mountain emitting smoke and lava and was told the phenomenon followed an eruption which released gas and ash into the sky.

The last major eruption on Oldonyo Lengai was in August 1966. The incident was captured by the local and international media and flashed around the world, especially the scientific institutions.

Since then there had not been an eruption of such magnitude, although notable onces were recorded in 1983, 1993, 2002 and as late as 2006.

However, some experts say much as there had not been such scary eruption, a series of earth tremors and continuous smoke and lava for such long period is something not to be ignored.

Dr. Buriani agreed with the experts' advice that scientists should be sent to Oldonyo Lengai area to study the impact of volcanic ash emissions from the mountain.

The 1996 and 1967 incidents, according to accounts, followed a major eruption which sent the local residents fleeing the area in their hundreds.

That period's eruption was the strongest to be recorded on the volcanic mountain in recent decades and killed wildlife and livestock.

"Smoke emission from the mountain lasted for only six months during 1966/67. This is not the case now. Since July last year, this has happened almost continuously" she said.

During her day long visit to the area, she was told that livestock were much affected by the volcanic dust and some died after licking it.

"As government, we are yet to establish the impact of volcanic eruptions around Oldonyo Lengai and its impact to livestock and people" she affirmed.

According to her, the matter would be dealt by the Disaster Management Unit under PMO and the Geology Survey of Tanzania.

The mountain of God, which the Maasai used to perform some traditional rituals became hostile to its neighbours from July last year when it started emitting hot lava and smoke from its vents following a series of earth tremors in the northern regions.

Until then, the mountain and Lake Natron, an alkaline water body near the Kenyan border, used to attract about 8,000 tourists annually.

These included scientists going to study geomorphology of the landscapes.

Several families of nomadic pastoralists living there are reported to have relocated to other villages which are farther from the mountain.

No major casualities have been reported but people living there have complained of chest problems and coughing excessively due to exposure to toxic materials emitted by the mountain.

Extract ID: 5582

See also

Source Unknown

Maasai - the black mountain . . .

Maasai - the black mountain

Extract ID: 751

See also

Amin, Mohamed; Willetts, Duncan and Marshall, Peter Journey Through Tanzania
Page Number: 151

Ol Doinyo Lengai

Mountain of God

Extract ID: 750
www.nTZ.info