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2002 Expedition

Page history last edited by Frederick Belton 12 years, 2 months ago

Seven clients accompanied me to the crater for what proved to be a very unusual, exhilarating, and dangerous experience due to high levels of activity.  Highlights of the 4 - 9 Aug 2002 visit are as follows:


1. When we arrived in the crater on 4 Aug we found new cones T55, T56, T57, and T57B, all of which had been formed since Chris Weber visited from 18-21 June.  Based on other reports of low activity in mid July, I suspect that all the new cones must have formed in very late July and early August.


2. During our 5 night visit to the crater there were eruptions from 7 different vents, T44, T46, T48, T56, T57B, T58, and T49F.  Two of the vents, T58 and T49F,  formed while we were present and produced high, violent lava fountains.


3. The Kitchen, a ledge in the NW crater rim that has been used for supply storage, cooking and dining by campers in recent years, was buried under at least 1 meter of lava on Aug 5.  The first flows to reach it burned a tent, injuring Paul Mongi, and destroyed much of our food and water supply. For details see 2002 Expedition Accident: Lava in the Kitchen.


4. During the last two days the smell of sulfur was far stronger than has been typical on previous visits.


5. There is a new crater rim overflow on the west rim.  It was see by Chris Weber on 18 June who also reported a low lying vent, T54, in the west part of the crater. During our visit T54 was no longer visible.


For more details, see 2002 News.



When we arrived in the crater at around 0930 on 4 Aug we found this distinctive cone, a new hornito designated T56. The tall spike on top had probably been formed within the previous 24 hours. The large hornitos on the left are T37B and T37.  The small white cone just left of T56 is T52. The tall thin hornito on the right is T47. This view is toward the south.



These three black cones were probably formed in late July - early August.  From left to right they are T57, T57B and T56.  T57B was active during our entire visit, spitting large lava clots from its summit vents and producing thick clinkery aa flows.   View is toward the SW.


At around noon on 4 Aug 2002 this new vent at the base of T49B suddenly began erupting, from an area of rough, cracked, steaming ground.  At first it produced large amounts of Pele's tears and some thin aa flows, accompanied by a loud gas jetting noise.  During the early morning of Aug 5 activity greatly intensified.  A 15 meter tall fountain produced large rapid pahoehoe flows that nearly killed Othman Swalehe and Paul (Paulo) Mongi. We called this vent the "Big Lion".  It is designated T49F.



4:30 pm,  4 Aug 2002.  This is the last afternoon of existence for the Kitchen, at left. Note the low ridge seperating it from the crater floor. A thin slow aa flow from T49F has reached it and stopped. In spite of warnings about the lava, Paulo and Othman insisted on camping here, assuming that the ridge would keep the small flows out. The great increase in the eruption's intensity during the night took us by surprise.



On 5 Aug Paulo shows off his burned sleeping bag and injured foot.  The Kitchen was reestablished on the crater rim.



Excuse me, has anyone seen the Kitchen?  I thought it was around here somewhere.  On 5 Aug the Kitchen lies buried under at least 1 meter of slabby pahoehoe lava.



T49F continued its powerful eruptions through the day and night of 5 Aug.  A typical eruption began with lava flowing or spattering from the vent.



Abruptly lava began to fountain from the Big Lion vent.



Soon the volume of erupted lava from T49F increased dramatically.



Sven takes a photo as the Big Lion (T49F) fountains.



The Big Lion roars! This lava fountain is similar to the one that destroyed the Kitchen the previous night. The top of the fountain, probably composed of Pele's tears and possibly some ash, is higher than one of Lengai's tallest hornitos, T51 at left.  View is toward the northeast.



A more distant view of the T49F eruption.



This fountain from T49F unexpectedly erupted toward the spot where Jeff and I were standing to photograph it.  After making our shots we immediately turned and ran, but incandescent material rained down on us and burned several holes in our clothing and in the top of my backpack.


Some expedition members in the new Kitchen on the crater rim. From left to right, Bjorn, Sven, Per Ole, Othman, Per Bjorn, Paulo, and Jeff.  Not pictured: Claus, Hildegard.



At 11:15 pm on 8 Aug, a violent fissure eruption between cones T52B and T56 formed T58, a new cone containing a lava lake. We called the vent Raging Bull.  Lava bursting from Raging Bull greets the African sunrise on 9 Aug.



Lava bursts violently from the new vent T58.  The fissure eruption formed this cone after 9 hours of activity. This photo was made at 0800 on Aug 9, 2002.  The tall white cone in the rear is T49B.



"If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for."  _George H. Leigh Mallory



The photo on the left shows part the central crater on 6 Aug 02. The photo on the right, part of a larger picture made by Jean Bahr of the U. of Wisconsin, shows the same location on 17 Aug with the new spatter cone T58 between T52B (foreground) and T56 just behind it. Estimated height of T58 is 10m.





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