Recurrent explosive eruptions from a high-risk Main Ethiopian Rift volcano throughout the Holocene

Catherine M. Martin-Jones, Christine S. Lane, Nicholas J.G. Pearce, Victoria C. Smith, Henry F. Lamb, Frank Schaebitz, Finn Viehberg, Maxwell C. Brown, Ute Frank, Asfawossen Asrat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Corbetti caldera is the southernmost large volcanic system in Ethiopia, and has been categorized at the highest level of uncertainty in terms of hazard and risk. Until now, the number and frequency of past explosive eruptions at Corbetti has been unknown, due to limited studies of frequently incomplete and patchy outcrop sequences. Here we use volcanic ash layers preserved in sediments from three Main Ethiopian Rift lakes to provide the first detailed record of volcanism for the Corbetti caldera. We show that lake sediments yield more comprehensive, stratigraphically resolved dossiers of long-term volcanism than often available in outcrop. Our eruptive history for Corbetti spans the past 10 k.y. and reveals eruptions at an average return period of ~900 yr. The threat posed by Corbetti has until now been underestimated. Future explosive eruptions similar to those of the past 10 k.y. would blanket nearby Awassa and Shashamene, currently home to ~260,000 people, with pumice-fall deposits, and would have significant societal impacts. A lake sediment tephrostratigraphic approach shows significant potential for application throughout the East African Rift system, and will be essential to better understanding volcanic hazards in this rapidly developing region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1127-1130
Number of pages4
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Martin-Jones was funded by a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Algorithm Ph.D. (grant NE 10983-01). Field work at Lake Chamo was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the scope of the CRC 806 (Our Way to Europe). Smith acknowledges funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (grant NE/ L013932/1), Brown and Frank acknowledge DFG SPP 1488 grant KO2870/4-1. Georgina Ettritch and Andrew Hardy (Aberystwyth University) assisted with geographic information system mapping. We thank Clive Oppenheimer (University of Cambridge) for encouraging discussions

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Geological Society of America.


Dive into the research topics of 'Recurrent explosive eruptions from a high-risk Main Ethiopian Rift volcano throughout the Holocene'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this