Nyiragongo

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  • Country
  • Subregion Name
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 1.52°S
  • 29.25°E

  • 3470 m
    11382 ft

  • 223030
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

29 January-4 February 2014

According to NASA's Earth Observatory, a satellite image acquired on 29 January showed a gas-and-steam plume rising from Nyiragongo.

Source: NASA Earth Observatory



 Available Weekly Reports


2014: January
2013: July
2012: October
2011: February | March | November
2010: January
2009: April | May
2008: August | September | October
2007: July
2005: September | October | November
2004: May | June | July | September | November | December
2003: February | March | April | May | December
2002: January | May | July | October
2001: March


29 January-4 February 2014

According to NASA's Earth Observatory, a satellite image acquired on 29 January showed a gas-and-steam plume rising from Nyiragongo.

Source: NASA Earth Observatory


31 July-6 August 2013

According to NASA's Earth Observatory, a satellite image of Nyiragongo acquired on 29 July showed a red glow coming from the active lava lake in the summit crater. A diffuse blue plume drifted N.

Source: NASA Earth Observatory


31 October-6 November 2012

The Toulouse VAAC reported that, according to a Volcano Observatory Notices for Aviation (VONA) issued by the Goma Volcano Observatory, a gas plume composed mostly of sulfur dioxide rose from Nyiragongo on 1 November.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


16 November-22 November 2011

According to NASA's Earth Observatory, a satellite image of Nyiragongo acquired on 15 November showed heat coming from the active lava lake in the summit crater.

Source: NASA Earth Observatory


9 March-15 March 2011

The Toulouse VAAC reported that on 13 March a diffuse plume was observed in satellite imagery.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


2 February-8 February 2011

The Toulouse VAAC reported that during 4-5 February diffuse plumes, likely composed primarily of sulfur dioxide gas, were observed in satellite imagery.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


27 January-2 February 2010

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.

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


6 May-12 May 2009

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.

Source: BBC News


1 April-7 April 2009

A recent report from Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO) noted a seismic swarm from Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira in January and increased seismicity along the East African Rift since then. Gas plumes from Nyiragongo were frequently emitted and contributed to acid rain that fell on inhabited areas. On 22 March, tremor was detected on nearby seismic networks. Scientists who visited the summit crater on 22 and 24 March observed active fumaroles along a fissure connecting the Shaheru (S flank) and Nyiragongo craters. Strong methane concentrations were detected. The lava lake level had dropped 20 m compared to 27 February. A small area of the lava lake was active and lava fountains were seen. The temperature of some fissures had increased by 4 degrees Celsius since 27 February.

Source: Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO)


15 October-21 October 2008

Based on analysis of satellite imagery, the Toulouse VAAC reported a diffuse sulfur plume from Nyiragongo on 17 October. The plume may have contained some ash.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


3 September-9 September 2008

Based on analysis of satellite imagery, the Toulouse VAAC reported a diffuse sulfur plume from Nyiragongo on 9 September. The plume may have contained some ash.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


27 August-2 September 2008

Based on analysis of satellite imagery, the Toulouse VAAC reported that an eruption of unstated character from Nyiragongo occurred before 0300 on 2 September. The activity was not confirmed by ground observations. Nyiragongo's frequently active lava lake is often detected on MODIS satellite thermal imagery.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


4 July-10 July 2007

According to news articles, a tourist climbed over the rim of Nyiragongo on 6 July to photograph the lava lake and died after slipping and falling about 100 m. Intense heat and gas from the active lava lake made the recovery mission difficult.

Sources: Agence France-Presse (AFP), Reuters


9 November-15 November 2005

On 13 November, a plume that may have contained some ash was emitted from Nyiragongo and seen on satellite imagery.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


2 November-8 November 2005

On 7 November a thin plume that may have contained some ash was emitted from Nyiragongo and seen on satellite imagery.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


26 October-1 November 2005

GVO reported that as of 28 October Nyiragongo remained very active, but stable. There was a permanently active large lava lake in the volcano's crater. A gas plume was emitted from the volcano and incandescence was visible at night several tens of kilometers from Nyiragongo. The Alert Level for the nearby city of Goma remained at Yellow.

Source: Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO)


5 October-11 October 2005

A thin plume from Nyiragongo was visible on satellite imagery on 10 October. It was not confirmed by sulfur-dioxide data.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


7 September-13 September 2005

On 7 September, high-resolution satellite imagery showed a thin plume emitted from Nyiragongo. The plume was not confirmed by other types of data.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


15 December-21 December 2004

During 29 November to 12 December, volcanic activity at Nyiragongo remained at relatively high levels. Nearly continuous high-amplitude tremor was recorded at all seismic stations on the volcano. Observations of the crater area on 9 and 10 December revealed that the level of the lava lake remained stable in comparison to previous visits and that strong lava fountaining was present. Pele's hair and scoriae fell in the area around the volcano, gas plumes rose above the volcano, and strong incandescence was visible at night. The Alert Level at Nyiragongo remained at Yellow.

Source: Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO)


8 December-14 December 2004

The Toulouse VAAC reported that faint sulfur-dioxide plumes from Nyiragongo were visible on satellite imagery on 8 and 10 December.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


24 November-30 November 2004

The Goma Volcano Observatory reported that during 10-17 November continuous volcanic tremor was recorded at all seismic stations located around Nyiragongo. Visual observation of the volcano's summit on 12 and 13 November revealed that the lava lake surface had widened considerably, with strong lava fountains. Numerous Pele's hairs and scoriae were seen on the cone's S, W, and N sides. A gas plume and incandescence were visible rising above the volcano. All fractures that opened during the 2002 eruption on the volcano's S flank had widened slightly and showed minor temperature increases.

During 18-29 November, continuous banded tremor at high amplitudes occurred beneath the volcano, but the amplitudes seemed to be lower that those recorded during 9-18 November. Visual observations at the summit on 25 and 26 November revealed a slight decrease in the level of the lava lake, although there continued to be strong lava fountains and a high flux in lava and gases. Pele's hair, scoriae, a gas plume, and incandescence were all still present. Measurements of the fractures on the volcano's slopes showed that they remained stable. The Alert Level at Nyiragongo remained at Yellow.

Source: Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO)


17 November-23 November 2004

The Toulouse VAAC reported that an eruption began at Nyiragongo sometime earlier than 0700 on 22 November. A narrow SW-drifting plume was discernable on satellite imagery at a height of around 5 km a.s.l. A narrow plume was visible again on satellite imagery on 23 November at 1130, although no ash was identifiable.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


3 November-9 November 2004

The Toulouse VAAC reported that an eruption began at Nyiragongo sometime earlier than 0600 on 3 November. A thin W-drifting plume was visible on satellite imagery on 3 and 4 November at a height around 3.6-4.9 km a.s.l.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


22 September-28 September 2004

The Toulouse VAAC reported that on 28 September a thin, narrow plume emitted from Nyiragongo was visible on satellite imagery.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


1 September-7 September 2004

The Toulouse VAAC reported that satellite imagery showed a narrow and faint plume from Nyiragongo beginning at 0930 on 7 September. The plume may have contained ash, and was estimated to be at a height less than 5.5 km a.s.l. The plume was no longer visible by 1300 that day.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


21 July-27 July 2004

According to the Toulouse VAAC, an eruption began at Nyiragongo sometime before 0700 on 27 July. Satellite imagery showed that the plume produced from the eruption rose to between 3.6 and 4.9 km a.s.l.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


14 July-20 July 2004

According to the Toulouse VAAC, satellite imagery showed new eruptive activity beginning on 12 July that ended by the next day. Activity began again on 18 July around 0930, producing a plume to about ~5.5 km a.s.l. By the next day the plume was no longer visible on satellite imagery.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


23 June-29 June 2004

Satellite imagery showed that ash emissions from Nyiragongo that began on 4 June appeared to have ceased by 22 June.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


9 June-15 June 2004

During 9-15 June, ash from Nyiragongo was sometimes visible on satellite imagery below ~5.5 km a.s.l. drifting WSW.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


2 June-8 June 2004

On 4 June a new eruption began at Nyiragongo, producing a plume that probably contained ash, was under ~6 km a.s.l., and stretched ~150 km SW. By 5 June the plume had extended to 185 km SW and was under ~4 km a.s.l. On 6 June, only a moderate plume stretching to the SW and a disconnected remnant of the earlier plume was observed in satellite imagery. This moderate plume drifting SW remained through 7 June. On 8 June an ash plume extended ~75 km SW at an altitude of ~5.5 km a.s.l.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


26 May-1 June 2004

The Toulouse VAAC reported that during 26 May to 1 June there were weak but steady emissions from Nyiragongo and neighboring Nyamuragira (~13 km NW from Nyiragongo). The Goma volcano observatory confirmed that ash fell within a radius of 60 km of both volcanoes.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


19 May-25 May 2004

The Toulouse VAAC reported that satellite imagery showed a weak eruption of Nyiragongo on 21 May. Activity intensified during the evening of 24 May. By the evening of 25 May, the volcano was no longer visible on satellite imagery due to meteorological clouds in the area.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


10 December-16 December 2003

GVO reported that in December activity at Nyiragongo remained at relatively low levels, with the constant presence of an active lava lake inside the crater. The Alert Level remained at Yellow.

Source: Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO)


7 May-13 May 2003

On 2 and 3 May a dense ash plume was visible from the town of Goma rising above Nyiragongo. Continuous ash fall occurred in many villages close to the volcano, and permanent tremor and long-period earthquakes were recorded. During a visit to the volcano during 6 and 7 May scientists saw that the lava pool in the crater was very active, with violent gas outbursts, projection of spatter and surges, and lava splashing the walls of the pit. Occasionally, large (~ 50 m high) flames were hurled from the vents. SO2 emission rates were relatively high during 1-6 May, with the largest emission (~50,000 tons) occurring on 3 May. According to the Toulouse VAAC, a possible ash cloud was visible on satellite imagery on 12 May that remained at a height below 6 km.

Sources: Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO), Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


30 April-6 May 2003

UN peace keepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo provided volcanologists an early May helicopter flight. This presented very clear views of Nyiragongo, including the scene inside the active crater. Viewers reported seeing a significant plume containing gas and ash rising high above the volcano. Such activity is typical at Nyiragongo, with its restless lava lake. The lake's molten surface appeared slightly larger than when seen during a field excursion to the crater rim during 22-24 April. The field excursion measured the plume at 5-6 km a.s.l. The also noted 5 distinct vents, almost continuous emissions of scoria, an agitated molten-lake surface that included emerging gas, and splashing lava thrown 50-60 m high. Occasional waves of lava rolled across portions of the crater floor and walls. Excursion members also witnessed crater-wall collapses taking place along the NW and S fracture zones. Widely felt earthquakes also continued in the region, presumably related to extension along the massive East African rift system.

Sources: Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO), The Open University Volcano Dynamics Group


26 March-1 April 2003

During a visit to Nyiragongo during 18-19 March, GVO scientists observed a thick plume engulfing the crater. Two possible emission points were noted; one was related to powerful lava and ash emissions, and the other was related to a much weaker white-pink plume. An inner active cone was visible in the crater and was at least 200 m in diameter. The cone morphology seemed to differ from when it was last seen during 26-27 February. Lava fountains rose to maximum heights of 150-200 m and as low as 50 m. Scoria ejection made observations difficult at times. Several permanent fumaroles, also observed during the previous visit, were seen in the crater.

Source: Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO)


5 March-11 March 2003

The Toulouse VAAC reported that on 6 March at 0900 a cloud probably containing ash was visible on METEOSAT satellite imagery extending ~185 km W of Nyiragongo. By 1200 ash was no longer visible.

Source: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)


26 February-4 March 2003

The level of volcanic activity at Nyiragongo as of 27 February was lower than during previous weeks when fine ash and Pele's hair fell in the city of Goma. Winds were no longer blowing ash and Pele's hair to the S, therefore Goma and other cities S of the volcano were no longer affected by tephra fall. Pele's hair and/or ash fell SW of Nyiragongo in the village of Rusayo, affecting the water supply. Residents of villages around the volcano reported seeing incandescence atop Nyiragongo during the evening. While visiting Nyiragongo's crater on 25 and 26 February, scientists found that the interior of the crater had changed since their last visit on 4 and 5 February. Vegetation had died in the main crater and heavy ashfall had occurred on the S flank. During the evening they saw intense lava fountaining, with lava reaching probably more than 100 m high, and a storm of Pele's hair.

Source: Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO)


12 February-18 February 2003

Beginning around 10 February volcanic activity increased at Nyiragongo. Fine ash covered cars in the city of Goma and at 1142 a long-period earthquake occurred for more than 2 minutes that was followed by several small events and an increase in tremor amplitude. Residents near the volcano noticed an increase in plume height, a change in plume color from white to black, and a sustained rain of ash and Pele's hair. As of the 14th, Pele's hair continued to fall in Goma and an ash plume was visible rising at least 5 km above the crater. At this time seismicity was probably lower than the previous week. GVO stated that the Pele's hair that fell in Goma was produced by lava fountaining inside Nyiragongo's crater. Residents in Goma and surrounding villages experienced a water shortage due to the contamination of rain water, which is their only source of water.

According to the MODIS Thermal Alerts website, thermal alerts have been visible at Nyiragongo every month since June 2002. Two alert pixels were visible at the volcano on 13 February.

Sources: Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO), The Open University Volcano Dynamics Group


9 October-15 October 2002

During a flight over Nyiragongo on 27 September, researchers' views into the crater were obscured by a large gas plume. The plume was present from mid-September through at least 10 October and reached to ~3 km above the volcano. During some nights from late September to 10 October, red glow reflecting off of the cloud was visible from towns near the volcano. The glow was caused by Strombolian explosions and the light emitted by the combustion of gases. While visiting the volcano during this time period, researchers heard loud noises emanating from the crater, and saw that volcanic material was ejected ~150 m vertically and no lava lake was visible. On 6 October they heard a partial wall collapse in the internal crater.

Source: Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO)


31 July-6 August 2002

A helicopter flight over Nyiragongo on 1 August revealed a thick, dense plume rising from the crater at a high velocity. The inner crater was completely filled with dispersed gas, preventing visibility of any fresh lava that may be in the crater. No red glow has been seen during recent nights, but the permanent sustained tremor recorded on all stations confirmed that the volcano remained active with magma moving beneath it. Some individual shocks were recorded around the SW flank of Nyiragongo. The Alert Level remained at Yellow.

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)


24 July-30 July 2002

Scientists were able to see Nyiragongo's crater on 27 July after 2 weeks without observations. They found that a very large white plume, which rose almost 3 km above the volcano, was being emitted from a small spatter cone inside the main crater. Lava was visible inside the spatter cone. They also noted a very active lava lake inside the main crater that was smaller than they expected it to be based on the size of the plume. While authorities did not order the evacuation of towns near the volcano, news articles reported that aid workers prepared emergency items such as makeshift shelters in case a large eruption occurs.

Sources: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Associated Press, Reuters


17 July-23 July 2002

During the previous several weeks, long and significant episodes of volcanic tremor had been recorded at several seismometers near Nyiragongo. Inclement weather conditions prevented visual observations of the volcano from the city of Goma. A team that climbed the volcano on 16-17 July observed a plume rising above the volcano and smelled SO2. Around 1800 on the 16th, lava fountains were observed rising ~100 m above the crater floor. During the night, large amounts of ash continuously fell on the upper part of the volcano. By morning, ash fall had ceased and a white plume rose above the crater. Observers could not see the bottom of the crater clearly, but due to visible activity on the lower and central parts of the crater they suspected that a new lava lake had formed.

Sources: Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)


15 May-21 May 2002

On 17 January 2002, during the eruption of Nyiragongo, all lava drained from the volcano's summit, leaving a 700-m-deep empty crater. In late April harmonic tremor began to be registered at two seismic stations on Nyiragongo's S flank, and increased irregularly in amplitude until mid-May. Anomalous clouds had been noticed above the crater twice since 1 May, but no incandescence had been visible at night. No eruptive activity was visible 14 May during an overflight, but increasing tremor amplitude suggested that magma was moving within the summit area. On 17-18 May a small lava fountain was seen on the floor of the crater along the same fissure that apparently drained the crater in January. The lava fountain was 12 m high, no lava lake was forming in the crater, and small incandescent vents on the crater floor ejected hot gases. The Goma Volcano Observatory stated,"this is a normal development in Nyiragongo's historical eruptive pattern, and is no cause for immediate concern."

Source: Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO)


30 January-5 February 2002

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), several earthquakes were felt by the population near Nyiragongo on 28 and 29 January. The earthquakes ranged in intensity from small to large. No volcanic tremor, indicating magma movement, was recorded. On 29 January heavy rain caused large amounts of steam to rise from cooling lava. The increase in steaming led to several false reports of renewed volcanism. The pH of Lake Kivu was measured to be the same as prior to the 17 January eruption. The volcano remained at Alert Level Yellow (second lowest on a four-color scale).

Sources: ReliefWeb, US Agency for International Development / Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)


23 January-29 January 2002

During 23-29 January there was no new volcanic activity at Nyiragongo. During 23 to around 25 January many earthquakes occurred in the region around the volcano; the largest earthquake was M 4.7. Many of the earthquakes were felt in towns near the volcano, including Goma, ~10 km S of the volcano. Several buildings were destroyed by the seismicity in towns near Nyiragongo, including Gisenyi, Rwanda. By 28 January seismicity had decreased and earthquakes were not large enough to be felt by the population.

Volcanologists determined that ash observed in Goma on the 23rd originated from the collapse of Nyiragongo's inner crater and not from a new eruption from neighboring Nyamiragira, as was originally stated in several news reports. During a visit to Nyiragongo's main crater on 28 January, the UN Volcano Surveillance Team found that the crater floor had almost completely collapsed more than 600 m. In addition, they saw neither ongoing volcanism nor fumaroles at the bottom of the crater, although they could smell SO2. A few weak steam vents were visible on the inner crater wall and a small gas plume was seen above the crater rim to the NE. On the 28th the volcano was at Alert Level Yellow (second on a four-color scale). The latest information about the Alert Level can be obtained from the Humanitarian Information Center's telephone hotline (084 84901) during the hours of 0800-2200.

Sources: US Agency for International Development / Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, ReliefWeb, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Agence France-Presse (AFP)


16 January-22 January 2002

According to reports from news and government agencies, the eruption at Nyiragongo that began on 17 January appeared to have stopped by 21 January. During the eruption lava flowed from fissures on the volcano's S and E flanks, moving towards the S. Lava flows cut directly through the city of Goma (~10 km S of the volcano) and continued onward to enter Lake Kivu. A 100-m-wide delta formed where lava entered the lake. Various reports estimated that lava flows had destroyed 25-75% of the city including ~10,000 homes. The buildings at the Goma airport remained intact, but lava covered ~80% of the airstrip rendering the airport inoperable.

Residents of Goma were evacuated after the eruption was underway. Reports of the number of deaths and injuries vary; most reports state ~45 people died, possibly as a result of remaining in their homes which burned or collapsed. In addition, 50-100 people were killed when hot lava caused gas station tanks to explode at 0830 on 21 January. A total of ~400 people suffered from injuries including burns. Beginning around 19 January many Goma residents returned to the city; field reports from USAID/OFDA staff stated that on the morning of the 20th more than 15,000 people per hour returned, while only 3,000 people per hour fled the city. By the 21st there were ~12,000 homeless families in Goma.

Press accounts indicated that volcanologists tentatively suggested that Nyiragongo's volcanism was due to seismicity producing fissures up to several km in length along the E African rift, allowing magma to reach the surface. After observing the volcano on 21 January volcanologists stated, "The current phase of the active eruption is finished. The volcano is quiet." Although no new lava flows were threatening the city, some scientists feared that lava entering the lake or seismic activity could perturb the lake sufficiently to release significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane gas lying at the bottom of the lake. On the other hand, news interviews quoted Jaques Durieux, a French volcanologist working with the UN, as saying, "There is no reason for the methane and carbon dioxide to rise to the surface."

According to Bruce Presgrave of the USGS, National Earthquake Information Center there have been an unusual number of tectonic earthquakes in the Goma-Nyiragongo region since ~9 hours after Nyiragongo's alleged initial lava flows at 0500 local time on 17 January. The sequence included ~100 earthquakes of M 3.5 or larger. The largest earthquake to date was M 5; it struck around 1.76°S, 29.08°E at 0014 on 20 January. According to news reports, several earthquakes were of sufficient magnitude to have been felt in the Goma region.

As of 22 January, no new lava flows had been reported, although lava slowly flowed into Lake Kivu and seismic activity continued. In addition, analysis of lake chemistry found the city's main water supply had remained potable.

Sources: US Agency for International Development / Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, US Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program, ReliefWeb, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)


9 January-15 January 2002

18 January Update

The following information is based on preliminary reports from various government and news agencies that were received during the ongoing crisis. An eruption began at Nyiragongo on 17 January and, according to news reports, as of 18 January lava flows had destroyed parts of 14 villages and 45 people had been killed. Some reports state that the eruption began at 0500 local time. Other reports state that probably around mid-day, fissures N of the Goma Airport opened and lava flowed from them at an estimated 2-3 m/min (1.2-1.8 km/hour) towards the town of Goma, ~10 km S of the volcano. Eruptions occurred on the volcano's S and E flanks. By late afternoon, at least one flow had advanced into Goma. At this time tremor with 5-second durations accompanied the lava flows about every 10 minutes. Gas stations exploded as the flows advanced through Goma, cutting a reported 35-70 m swath through the town on its way to Lake Kivu. In places, the lava flows were 2 meters high and 30 m wide.

The lava flows damaged 14 villages as they destroyed everything in their paths including, buildings, homes, and the port in Goma. The population of Goma (~400,000 people) and surrounding areas evacuated with some moving W on the road toward the town of Sake, while the majority of the population reportedly moved E towards Rwanda to the town of Gisenyi. According to news reports, United Nations officials reported that 45 people had been killed by the eruption as of 18 January. A Goma resident stated that by the morning of 18 January tremor had died down to "about one every 40 seconds to one an hour." Also, lava continued to flow, but was no longer a threat to the road linking Goma with Rwanda.

Sources: US Agency for International Development / Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, Agence France-Presse (AFP), Reuters, Associated Press, CNN


7 March-13 March 2001

The Goma Volcanological Observatory reported that there may be renewed volcanic activity at Nyiragongo volcano, ~10 km SE of Nyamuragira volcano. The observatory stated that during the current eruption of Nyamuragira the temperature increased in Nyiragongo's main cone and Shaheru fissure, ~3 km S of the summit. In addition, new fumaroles were observed inside Nyiragongo's main crater and along the fissure connecting the main crater and Shaheru cone. Cracks that were observed in the crater of the main cone suggested that dilatation of the crater had occurred.

Source: Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO)


Summary of eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
2002 May 17 (?) 2013 Sep 18 (continuing) Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
2002 Jan 17 2002 Feb 3 (in or after) Confirmed 1 Historical Observations South flank (2800-1570 m), summit crater
1994 Jun 23 1996 Mar (?) Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1982 Jun 21 1982 Oct 17 ± 15 days Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1977 Jan 10 1977 Jan 10 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations North, south, and west flanks
1927 Mar 1977 Jan 10 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1920 1921 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1918 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1911 Aug 1911 Oct Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Southern pit
[ 1908 Dec 1 ± 30 days ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain     Southern craters
1906 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1905 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1902 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1901 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1900 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1899 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1898 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1894 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1891 (in or before) Unknown Confirmed   Unknown
1884 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Southern pit

The following references are the sources used for data regarding this volcano. References are linked directly to our volcano data file. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title. Additional discussion of data sources can be found under Volcano Data Criteria.

Demant A, Lestrade P, Lubala R T, Kampunzu A B, Durieux J, 1994. Volcanological and petrological evolution of Nyiragongo volcano, Virunga volcanic field, Zaire. Bull Volc, 56: 47-61.

Denaeyer M E, 1969. Nouvelles donnees lithologiques sur les volcans actifs des Virunga (Afrique centrale). Bull Volc, 33: 1128-1144.

Favalli M, Chirico G D, Papale P, Pareschi M T, Boschi E, 2009. Lava flow hazard at Nyiragongo volcano, D.R.C. 1. Model calibration and hazard mapping. Bull Volc, 71: 363-374.

Hamaguchi H (ed), 1983. Volcanoes Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira: Geophysical Aspects. Sendai: Tohoku Univ Fac Sci, 130 p.

IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior..

Krafft M, 1990. Fuhrer zu den Virunga-Vulkanen. Stuttgart: Ferdinand Enke, 187 p.

Platz T, Foley S F, Andre L, 2004. Low-pressure fractionation of the Nyiragongo volcanic rocks, Virunga Province, D.R. Congo. J Volc Geotherm Res, 136: 269-295.

Pottier Y, 1978. Premiere eruption historique du Nyiragongo et manifestations adventives simultanees du Volcan Nyamulagira (Chaine des VIrunga - Kivu - Zaire: Dec. 76 - Jiun 77). Mus Roy Afr Centr, Tervuren (Belg), Dept Geol Mineral, Rapp Ann 1977, p 157-175.

Richard J J, Neumann van Padang M, 1957. Africa and the Red Sea. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI 4: 1-118.

Sahama T G, 1978. The Nyiragongo main cone. Musee Roy l'Afrique Centrale, Tuervuren, Belgique Annales, Ser In-8, Sci Geol, 81: 1-88.

Tanaka K (ed), 1988. Geophysical Studies of Volcanoes Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira. Hirosaki: Hirosaki Univ Fac Sci, 78 p (in Japanese with English abs).

Tazieff H, 1979. Nyiragongo the Forbidden Volcano. Woodbury, New York: Barrons Educational Ser, 287 p.

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 of the volcano, 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.