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Report on Nyamuragira (DR Congo) — April 1989

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 14, no. 4 (April 1989)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Nyamuragira (DR Congo) Lava erupts from summit and E flank

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1989. Report on Nyamuragira (DR Congo) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 14:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198904-223020.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


DR Congo

1.408°S, 29.2°E; summit elev. 3058 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

An eruption that began on 23 April in Nyamuragira's summit crater was reported by the Vice Conservator of the Institut Zairois pour la Conservation de la Nature, Parc National des Virunga. On the 24th at 1418, three lava fountains emerged from a fissure on the SSE flank of the volcano. Incandescence was visible from the village of Gisenyi, Rwanda, roughly 30 km from the vent. The resulting lava flow passed between Kitazungurwa and Rugarambiro cones, diverted around Gitebe cone, and flowed along lava erupted in 1981-82 from Rugarambiro (figure 6). By the 26th, the flow had reached Nyasheke-South and was ~6 km from Kakomero, the base camp for climbers at the park entrance.

On the night of the 26th, lava emerged from the W side of the Kanamaharagi cone (formed during the 1905 eruption), building a new parasitic cone (also named Kanamaharagi) at ~1,860 m altitude. Lava fountains up to 200 m high and large amounts of tephra were emitted 30 April-1 May. As of 6 May, the volcano was still erupting.

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: S. Peyer and H. Peyer, Gisenyi, Rwanda; H-L. Hody, GEOVAR, Kigali, Rwanda.