Dario TEDESCO and Jacques DURIEUX
It has been possible, thanks to the MONUC helicopter, to fly over the two volcanoes on the morning of 27th of July, 2002. Despite poor visibility, mainly due, to presence of steam and gas in the atmosphere coming from Nyamuragira eruption it was possible to make visual observations on both craters.
For the first time after two weeks we have been able to make visual observations inside the Nyiragongo crater. The very big white plume comes from a smaller spatter cone (crater formed by the continuous accumulation of scoria) inside the main crater. Within this scoria crater were visible wide movements of lava. It is a small lava lake and not a big one as suspected from the strong degassing. It is possible to say that the size of the plume is not proportional to the volume of the small lava lake. It is then possible to hypothesize that the huge plume is due to magma close to the surface, within the volcano structure that it is not yet appeared at the surface. It is necessary to monitor carefully the seismic activity related to small earthquakes (A-type) that occur or will occur within the volcano structure. The main concern is that the magma stored next to the surface will might intrude or being injected into the January 17 fracture system.
Nyamuragira lave sommet
An extremely huge plume, as also referred by NASA, is visible upon the fissural eruption of Nyamuragira volcano. The NASA satellite detected a plume 400 Km long and 300 Km wide in a WSW direction along DR Congo. The eruption is still on and the fracture opened on July 25 remains active with 3 different lava fountains of 100/200 meters of elevation. The lava flow is not as long as expected, between 6 and 7 Km and almost one km or more wide. There are no threath for any human settlement and the lava front seems to advance very slowly towards the N-E inside the National Park boundaries.
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