Report on Nyiragongo (DR Congo) — December 2003

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 28, no. 12 (December 2003)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Nyiragongo (DR Congo) Lava lake present and providing gas plumes and night glow in December

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2003. Report on Nyiragongo (DR Congo). In: Wunderman, R (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 28:12. Smithsonian Institution. http://dx.doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200312-223030.

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Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


In December 2003 activity at Nyiragongo remained at relatively low levels, with the constant presence of an active lava lake inside the crater. Goma residents saw voluminous gas plume and intense red glow at night; however, activity was considered normal and the alert level remained at yellow.

Geologic Background. One of Africa's most notable volcanoes, Nyiragongo contained a lava lake in its deep summit crater that was active for half a century before draining catastrophically through its outer flanks in 1977. In contrast to the low profile of its neighboring shield volcano, Nyamuragira, 3470-m-high Nyiragongo displays the steep slopes of a stratovolcano. Benches in the steep-walled, 1.2-km-wide summit crater mark levels of former lava lakes, which have been observed since the late-19th century. 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 lava flows that extend long distances down the flanks, which is characterized by the eruption of foiditic rocks. The extremely fluid 1977 lava flows caused many fatalities, as did lava flows that inundated portions of the major city of Goma in January 2002.

Information Contacts: Baluku Bajope and Kasereka Mahinda, Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma, Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DR Congo (Email: ocha.volcan@wfp.org); Jacques Durieux, UN-OCHA resident volcanologist, c/o UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations Geneva , Palais des Nations,1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland (URL: http://www.unog.ch).