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Report on Nyamuragira (DR Congo) — July 1994

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 19, no. 7 (July 1994)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Nyamuragira (DR Congo) High lava fountains feed lava flow on NW flank

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1994. Report on Nyamuragira (DR Congo) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 19:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199407-223020.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


DR Congo

1.408°S, 29.2°E; summit elev. 3058 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

High lava fountaining in early July took place from a new vent on the W flank, named Kimera. Located ~100 m S of the 1971 Rugarama cone, this vent became active at 2148 on 4 July, but remained active for only 4-5 days. The lava flows generally moved W until at least 10 July, when the flows reached their maximum extent. By 11 July, the small lake (Magera) at the E foot of a Precambrian escarpment was entirely filled and dried by the flow. High SO2 concentrations detected by the TOMS during 5-10 July were most likely caused by this activity at Nyamuragira and not from the lava lake at Nyiragongo. Nyamuragira also emitted levels of SO2 detectable by satellite during 17-19 July 1986 (275-375 ± 30% kt) and on 24 September 1991 (20 kt).

A press report described falls of both ash and Pele's hair during the first half of July in the Mokoto Hills, above the W escarpment of the rift ~20 km from the volcano. Several farmers reported problems caused by cattle eating ash-laden grass.

Long-term monitoring data indicated an apparent acceleration in seismo-geodetic activity in the past 10 years. Seismicity steadily increased from <200 volcanic events/month in 1960-65 to ~300-400/month in the early 1980's (figure 13). Increased seismicity after 1985 suggests an acceleration of magma supply into the volcano. The geodimeter network operating on the Nyamuragira summit has also revealed a gradual strain increase since 1980, showing that the crater is dilated.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Monthly number of volcanic earthquakes at Nyamuragira, 1960-92. The short-period seismic station is located 110 km from the volcano. Vertical arrows indicate flank eruptions. Courtesy of H. Hamaguchi.

Geologic Background. Africa's most active volcano, Nyamuragira, is a massive high-potassium basaltic shield about 25 km N of Lake Kivu. Also known as Nyamulagira, it has generated extensive lava flows that cover 1500 km2 of the western branch of the East African Rift. The broad low-angle shield volcano contrasts dramatically with the adjacent steep-sided Nyiragongo to the SW. The summit is truncated by a small 2 x 2.3 km caldera that has walls up to about 100 m high. Historical eruptions have occurred within the summit caldera, as well as from the numerous fissures and cinder cones on the flanks. A lava lake in the summit crater, active since at least 1921, drained in 1938, at the time of a major flank eruption. Historical lava flows extend down the flanks more than 30 km from the summit, reaching as far as Lake Kivu.

Information Contacts: N. Zana, Centre de Recherche en Géophysique, Kinshasa; H. Hamaguchi, Tohoku Univ; J. Durieux, GEVA, Lyon, France; G. Benhamou, Libération newspaper, France; T. Casadevall, USGS; I. Sprod, GSFC.