DR Congo

BGS News release: Volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo

News and Press Release
Originally published
BGS News Releases
Date Issued: Jan-18-2002

Press announcements are compiled and issued by Hilary Heason, BGS Parliamentary and Media Liaison Officer, Keyworth.

A volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo is erupting and thousands of people are fleeing for their lives. One of Africa's most notable volcanoes, Nyiragongo contained an active lava lake in its deep summit crater that drained in 1977.

In contrast to the low profile of its neighbouring shield volcano, Nyamuragira, Nyiragongo displays the steep slopes of a stratovolcano. Benches in the steep-walled, 1.2-km-wide summit crater mark former lava lake levels. Two older stratovolcanoes, Baruta and Shaheru, are partially overlapped by Nyiragongo on the north and south. About 100 parasitic cones are located primarily along radial fissures south of Shaheru, east of the summit, and along a NE-SW zone extending as far as Lake Kivu. Many cones are buried by voluminous flank lava flows, the most recent of which extends from an E-flank fissure south to within 4 km of Goma.

Monitoring is done from a small observatory building located in Goma, ~18 km S of the Nyiragongo crater. A previous lava lake in the deep summit crater of Nyiragongo, first reported by G.A. Von Gotzen on 11 June 1894, drained suddenly through radial fissures on 10 January 1977, killing about 70 people. Lava lake activity resumed in June 1982, but had ceased by early 1983. The lava lake was again activated after an eruption that began in June 1994.

General Reference: Tazieff, H. 1979, Nyiragongo, the forbidden volcano, translated by J. F. Bernard: Barron's, New York, 287 p. Originally published as Nyiragongo: Flaminarion, Paris, 1975.

For further information contact Susan Lauchlan on 0131 667 1000, or Eugene O'Connor on 0115 9363476