Report on Nyiragongo (DR Congo) — 6 May-12 May 2009

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 6 May-12 May 2009
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2009. Report on Nyiragongo (DR Congo). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 6 May-12 May 2009. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

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Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


According to a news article on 8 May, the air in the city of Goma, 18 km S of Nyiragongo, was thick with "volcanic dust." Residents reported seeing incandescent lava flowing from the summit crater at night. The article also stated that the scientist-in-charge of Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO) reported that significantly increased temperatures were measured around Nyiragongo and that larger-than-usual plumes of "volcanic dust" were being ejected. The news account did not mention any GVO statements about lava flows.

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.

Source: BBC News