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Recherche > Oldony'o Lengai Volcano by Vicenç Palà

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About This Gigapan

Taken by
Vicenç Palà Vicenç Palà
Explore score
0.05 Gigapixels
Date added
Dec 20, 2007
Date taken
Oct 08, 2007

EOS 7d + 70-200 mm


Ol Doinyo Lengai is a volcano located in the north of Tanzania and is part of the volcanic system of the Great Rift Valley in Eastern Africa. It is located in the eastern Rift Valley, south of both Lake Natron and Kenya. It is unique among active volcanoes in that it produces natrocarbonatite lava, a unique occurrence of volcanic carbonatite, which means its lava is only 510 degrees Celcius (or 950 degrees Fahrenheit). A few older extinct carbonatite volcanoes are located nearby, including Homa Mountain.

Whereas most lavas are rich in silicate minerals, the lava of Ol Doinyo Lengai is rich in the rare sodium and potassium carbonates, nyerereite and gregoryite. Due to this unusual composition, the lava is erupted at relatively low temperatures (approximately 500-600 degrees Celsius). This temperature is so low that the molten lava appears black in sunlight, rather than having the red glow common to most lavas. It is also much more fluid than silicate lavas. The sodium and potassium carbonate minerals of the lavas formed by Ol Doinyo Lengai are unstable at the Earth's surface and susceptible to rapid weathering, quickly turning from black to grey in color. The resulting volcanic landscape is different from any other in the world. The chemical makeup of the lava has been compared to dish soap.

"Ol Doinyo Lengai" means "Mountain of God" in the language of the native Maasai people.

Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC-P150

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