Rift volcanism

A BGS team are mapping the geology of the Afar desert in northern Ethiopia — reputed to be the hottest place on Earth.

Some of the least studied and unmonitored volcanoes of the world are in Ethiopia and these are to be explored as part of the newly funded ‘RiftVolc’ project to understand their past eruptions, current activity and the future threat they pose to the lives and livelihoods of people.

The RiftVolc project will focus on the volcanoes of the densely populated Main Ethiopian Rift. The multi-disciplinary team, including volcanologists from BGS, will spend several months in Ethiopia over the next five years collecting samples for analyses, characterising and mapping the extent of previous eruptions and deploying geophysical instruments. These data will be analysed to establish volcano eruption histories and current states of unrest, and to investigate likely future eruption scenarios. The team will work closely with partners in Ethiopia so results can be used to communicate the threat and support planning to mitigate the impact of future eruptions.

BGS investigator Charlotte Vye-Brown leads the ‘Future’ work package with a team of seven BGS researchers and colleagues from the University of Edinburgh. This aims to establish the potential threats from future volcanic activity.

The project team includes scientists from BGS and the universities of Edinburgh, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, Oxford and Southampton. It also involves Addis Ababa University, the Geological Survey of Ethiopia and Reykjavik Geothermal. The £3.7 million five year project is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and begins in September 2014.

For more information on the project see:


Contact Dr Charlotte Vye-Brown for further information.