Last week fishermen reported that they had seen lava fountains rising 20-30 meter near the Zubair islands about 50 km west of Salif, in Yemen. The exact location was however unclear. The eruption apparently lead to the birth of a new island, which can be seen on this satellite image fro NASA Earth Observatory.
The activity in the Red Sea included more than one eruption. By 23 December 2011, what looked like a new island appeared in the region. The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this high-resolution, natural-color images on 23 December 2011. The image shows an apparent island where there had previously been an unbroken water surface. A thick plume rises from the island, dark near the bottom and light near the top, perhaps a mixture of volcanic ash and water vapor. The volcanic activity occurred along the Zubair Group, a collection of small islands off the west coast of Yemen. Running in a roughly northwest-southeast line, the islands poke above the sea surface, rising from a shield volcano. This region is part of the Red Sea Rift where the African and Arabian tectonic plates pull apart and new ocean crust regularly forms.
Four years ago there was a similar eruption at the Yemeni Jabal al-Tair island.
These volcanoes are situated at the Red Sea Rift, a spreading ridge between two tectonic plates, the African (or Nubian) Plate and the Arabian Plate. It extends down the length of the Red Sea, stretching from the southern end of the Dead Sea Transform to a triple junction with the Aden Ridge and the East African Rift (the Afar Triple Junction) in the Afar Depression of eastern Africa. The rift zone indeed includes the island of Jabal al-Tair, formed by the basaltic stratovolcano of the same name, located northwest of the Bab al-Mandab passage at the mouth of the Red Sea, about half way between Yemen and Eritrea, a volcano that erupted on 30 September 2007 after 124 years of dormancy.
See also my 2007 post