Monday, April 03, 2006

Villagers evacuate due to volcanic eruption

Villagers living around Mount Oldonyo Lengai in northern Tanzania have fled their homes as the active volcano started erupting again.

Local newspaper The Guardian on Saturday quoted Ngorongoro District Commissioner Assey Msangi as saying that minor eruptions at the volcano were not unusual.

"I have not yet received an official report, but eruptions are a common phenomenon at Mount Oldonyo Lengai because they occur almost every year," the local government official said.

The newspaper quoted eyewitnesses as saying that they heard rumbling sounds before the volcano began to discharge ashes and lava on Thursday.

Mount Oldonyo Lengai, standing at 3,450 meters above sea level, is the world's only active sodium carbonite volcano and is therefore the world's only volcano that erupts natrocarbonatite lava.

Natrocarbonatite lava usually contains almost no silicon and is much cooler in temperature than other lavas.

The highly fluid lava measures 510 degrees Celsius as against basaltic lava that can be as hot as 1,100 degrees Celsius.

Volcanic activities at Mount Oldonyo Lengai have been witnessed by many since the late 1980s. In July last year observers recorded a lesser eruption.

The last explosive activity of Mount Oldonyo Lengai was recorded in 1966.

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