<p>The activity at the surface of the lava lake on Erta 'Ale volcano (Ethiopia) shows that large bubbles are regularly breaking at a fixed position on the lava lake. This is also where the small lava fountains are sometimes produced. Since this location is likely to be directly above the volcanic conduit feeding the lava lake, we have done continuous measurements between March 22 and 26, 2003 to understand the degassing of a volcano in permanent activity. The bubble size has been first estimated from videos, which once combined with the acoustic pressure, can constrain the source of the sound. The gas volume and overpressure stayed roughly constant, between 36-700 m(3) and 4 x 10(3)-1.8 x 10(4) Pa, respectively. Simultaneous thermal measurements showed regular peaks, which occurred when the crust was broken by a large bubble, hence gave a direct indication on the typical return time between the bubbles (1 h). These spherical cap bubbles had a high Reynolds number, 4600-20000, therefore a wake, periodically unstable, formed and detached from the bubble bottom. The bubbly wake, if the detachment occurs close to the surface, can explain the duration of lava fountains, measured on the videos. The periodic arrival of bubbly wakes, which mostly detach from the driving spherical cap within the lava lake, could explain the absence of cooling at Erta 'Ale, Erebus (Antartica), Villarica (Chile) and Nyiragongo (Democratic Republic of Congo) without invoking a convective downflow of magma in the conduit, as previously done. (C 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.</p>
Bouche, E. Vergniolle, S. Staudacher, T. Nercessian, A. Delmont, J. -C. Frogneux, M. Cartault, F. Le Pichon, A.