End of times and volcanic fertilizer

As I was flying over Ol Doinyo Lengai I contemplated that it is the largest fertilizer factory on the planet. It is the prime cause of the massive herds of herbivores trekking across the inner parts of Africa. The ash from the volcano super-charges the grass with nutrients and makes it the best animal-feed on…

Time for komatiite

People mellow with age. At least, most of us do. The emotions of youth become less all-important and less demanding of our attention. Young people feel that every perceived slight needs addressing. The heat goes to the head and mistakes are made. The Earth, too, went through that phase, before it settled down in middle-age…

Rungwe

Africa was a true terra incognito. Even as late as the 19th century, much of the interior remained unknown. It is strange how we could have forgotten our ancient roots. It had become the ‘dark continent’, a name that could only have been invented by someone who had never been there. They missed out on…

Volcanic Organs and Gandalf’s Pipe

Back when I was a kid, I had two interests in life, physics and playing music. In music my favourite instrument was the church organ. Over the following years those two interests merged into one as I got interested in how soundwaves form, and onwards into what I usually call waveform theory. Waveform theory is…

Réunion Island

This is a rerun of a post that appeared in December, 2013: the date explains the unseasonal greeting at the start. It was written by Fran. Reunion sits near the head of a chain of volcanic islands in the Indian Ocean, ending (or beginning) at the Deccan traps. Hot spot volcano candy at its best.)…

The Drakensberg and the storm that ended Gondwana

Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo Setshaba sa, South Afrika Imagine. Around you is a sea of sand, stretching out far beyond the horizon. Mirages reflect the cloudless sky, and suggest water where only sand rules. But strangely, a mile ahead a river pushes through the mirages, flowing slowly, a blue ribbon amidst…

The forgotten volcanoes of Chad Part II

In the previous part I wrote that we would be investigating some of the largest sub-aerial volcanism on the planet as we took a closer look at this the largest known sub-aerial volcanic system in the world. And now it is time to look at volcanism on a stupendous scale. But before we do that…

The forgotten volcanoes of Chad Part I

In this part of ”Off the beaten track” we will well and truly go off the beaten track, or perhaps we are getting to one of the most beaten tracks on the planet. You will have to be the judges of that. In this part volcanism takes on a scale of grandeur on an unprecedented…

The forgotten volcanoes of Libya

In my last article I wrote about the Turkana, volcanism that is part of the Great African Rift. But unbeknownst to most this is just one of several rift systems in Africa that are tearing the continent apart. In this article we will be making an initial contact with an even larger, younger and far…

Turkana and the Dawn of Man

I readily admit to enjoying large scale volcanism. Yes, small scale volcanism like Tor Zawar may be a fun diversion, but it is the majestic scale that volcanism can take that get my juices flowing.  By now I have touched upon most of the worlds large volcanic features at least in the passing, but there…