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Erta Ale: Smoking Mountain

Erta Ale is the most active volcano in Ethiopia. The height of Erta Ale is 613 metres (2,011 ft) and since it is located within a depression that’s below sea level, Erta Ale is one of world’s lowest volcanoes. What Erta Ale lacks in height, it makes up for in width – Erta Ale is 50 km wide! To keep up with impressive measurements, the crater of Erta Ale is 0.7 x 1.6 km large. There is another, larger albeit inactive pit located south-east of Erta Ale’s summit which measures 1.8 x 3.1 km.

In local Afar langue, the name Erta Ale means “smoking mountain” but not surprisingly, the southern pit is locally known as the “gateway to hell”. The single most impressive part of the Erta Ale Volcano is Erta Ale Lava Lake which is notable for being the longest existing lava lake in the world.

Erta Ale is very much an active volcano with latest eruption being as recent as 2009. Seven major eruptions occurred in last 125 years with most recent being the one from September 25, 2005.