Report on Nyiragongo (DR Congo) — 27 January-2 February 2010

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 27 January-2 February 2010
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2010. Report on Nyiragongo (DR Congo). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 27 January-2 February 2010. 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)


During 27 January-2 February, the MODIS sensor aboard the Earth Observing System (EOS) satellite continued to frequently detect thermal anomalies from Nyiragongo, likely from lava lake activity. Based on analyses of satellite imagery, the Toulouse VAAC reported that during 30-31 January a diffuse plume drifted 240 km W.

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.

Sources: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) Thermal Alerts Team