These new images of the Nabro volcano taken on June 29 finally provided a nearly unimpeded view of the summit,which had been hidden by steam and ash clouds.
Located in the East African nation of Eritrea, Nabro began its eruption explosively on June 12, 2011 and sent plumes of ash streaming over North Africa and the Middle East, killing seven people with thousands more affected both in Eritrea and Ethiopia.
The volcano has eased into a quieter, lava-oozing phase. The top image shows the volcano in visible and infrared light (shortwave infrared, near infrared, and green). The hot lava glows orange-red, fading to black as it cools. The long flow on the west side of the volcano is mottled with black, a sign that the surface is cooling. The lava to the east and south of the vent appears to be newer, since little of it has cooled. It is possible that the cooling lava in the western flow diverted the fresh lava to the south and east.
The lower image provides a natural color view of the volcano. A small, slightly brown plume rises from the vent, and ash blackens the ground to the west and south.
The Nabro volcano has not erupted in recorded human history, but lava flows near the volcano are relatively recent geologically. Nabro is part of the very active East Africa Rift where three tectonic plates are pulling away from each other.
As the Earth's crust thins in the region, volcanoes rise in the weak spots.