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30 December 2011

Surtseyan eruption along the coast of Yemen forms a new island

Jorgen Aabech, a Norvegian volcano enthusiast writing already a long time in his blog vulkaner.no, wrote us an email on December 20 to attract our attention on a probably new eruption of the Jebel Zubair volcano, which is an island formation on the territory of Yemen. Jorgen asked us if we had any mention of earthquakes in the area, which was negative.

When looking at the Modis Terra and Aqua satellite picture on December 20, we saw indeed a very small cloud in the island area, but nothing important to us. We also followed the Sat24 weather satellite pictures for a while to eventually detect heat on their Infrared images, but also this was negative. This whole eruption, actually found by the scanning of Jorgen Aalbach (if we are right), was almost forgotten until NASA’s Earth Observatory published a far better satellite picture showing more detail of the eruption. Just like during the Eritrea Nabro eruption, satellite images are the only source in this part of the world (in other words, these countries have other concerns than following an active volcano area all the time)


NASA MODIS Aqua December 29 satellite picture showing eruption cloud and stain - courtsey NASA

Update December 29 (all other info below).

- As you can see on the picture above, the eruption is still ongoing (white cloud and blue stain)
- It is a pity that nobody was around to make beautiful pictures from this Surtseyan eruption (not too late though – to all nature photographers : take your backpack and travel to Yemen (do not forget to hire some armed guards as the country has still a lot of armed rebels and as almost everyone carries a knife and a gun).
- The Yemen times, a local Yemenite newspaper (who does not mention the creation of a new island) wrote the following :
The Monitoring Center for the Study of Earthquakes and Volcanoes has reported the presence of light volcanic activity on one of the unpopulated islands of ‘Jabal Al-Zubair’ archipelago, 120 km northwest of Hodeida Governorate. Jamal Sha’alan, the manager of the center said that initial indications are that the volcanic eruption was light and will not pose a threat to marine navigation. Saleh Al-Maflahi, the assistant manager of the center, also confirmed that initial indications of the volcanic eruption are reassuring, saying that the centre has commissioned technical experts to travel to the site of the volcano to conduct studies. The team has installed a seismic monitoring station there to alert them to seismic activity that may be the precursor to volcanic activity, according to Al-Maflahi. “The volcanic activity and rising smoke was witnessed by some visitors,” he said, adding that a good deal of seismic activity had recently taken place. He said that the results of a survey of the area’s volcanic history showed that Jabal Al-Zubair is an active volcanic site, and that it witnessed volcanic activity 187 years ago. In September 2007, a volcano on Jabal Al-Tair Island – 20 km southwest of Al-Zubair and 140 kilometers off Yemen’s western coastline – caused the death of eight Yemeni soldiers in addition to injuring others stationed at a military base.

More information and latest updates at: EARTHQUAKE REPORT