Field of Science

Nyiragongo: lava lake level rising

The German newspaper "Der Spiegel" has released a collection of photos of the lava lake inside the crater of the dangerous Nyiragongo.

In January 1977 the outburst of a lava lake on Nyiragongo killed at least 72 people, in 2002 the opening of a fissure on the flanks of the volcano released a lava flow which caused havoc and panic in the nearby city of Goma and claimed 170 causalities and now again the lake level has begun to raise, reaching an alarming height. Nyiragongo is a poorly monitored volcano, the crater is hard to reach and the area politically instable and most information derives from sparse expeditions visiting the lava lake or provided by measurements of the mountain-topography by satellites.

A team of volcanologist studying the volcano in the last years has documented significant changes in the crater, after the eruption of 2002 a new lava lake formed, from 2006 until today the lake level raised by 50m, reaching a height of 450m under the crater rim, comparable to the lake level before the 2002 event.
The photos taken in January 2011 show the actual status of the lake - it seems that magma is rising up and filling the reservoir and lake of the volcano, however there are no signs for an imminent increase of the volcanic activity or even a possible eruption.

The greatest concern however remains future lake outbursts or, as worst case scenario, the possibility that like in 2002 the pressure of the magma inside the mountain or an earthquake can open again a fissure releasing a lava flow from the southern flanks of the volcano.
The distribution of ancient and more recent lava flows make it highly probable that in such a case again the city of Goma would be affected.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Markup Key:
- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i>italic</i> = italic
- <a href="">FoS</a> = FoS