On the eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the perilous Nyiragongo volcano towers 3470m over the city of Goma. The wildly erratic volcano is one of the most active on the planet, famous for the violent 200-metre-wide lava lake cradled in its vast summit crater, constantly emitting deadly gases and huge geysers of liquid rock. In 1977 and 2002, the volcano spewed deadly molten rock towards the million inhabitants of Goma, killing hundreds, forcing evacuations and destroying homes—but these were just small disturbances compared to what Nyiragongo is capable of unleashing. The volcano has an intricate ‘plumbing’ system like roots of a tree snaking deep underground, with vents not just at its summit but all around it, and so the threat to Goma is very immediate, and it has been dubbed ‘the most dangerous city in the world’ by researchers. The question is not if the volcano will erupt, but when. And yet, Nyiragongo is one of the least studied volcanoes in the world, because for the past twenty years, the Democratic Republic of Congo has experienced almost constant warfare. A deeper understanding of Nyiragongo must be gained in order to prevent a catastrophe, but serious research has only begun in the past few years. Until we can predict its activity, the question of when? will haunt scientists and seismologists alike, and will determine the fate of nearly one million people.
The permanent lava lake of the Nyiragongo Crater is the biggest in the world with an estimated 282 million cubic feet of lava. The volcano’s rim lies 11,380 feet above the ground. At 1,300 feet deep, the lava lake has created one of the many wonders of the African continent. (Source)
The Virunga Mountains form a formidable barrier across the western arm of Africa’s Rift Valley, a major fracture zone in the earth’s crust. Located to the north of Lac (Lake) Kivu, the chain of volcanic peaks extends west to east for about 80km (50 miles). Highest of the eight major peaks in the group is Karisimbi at about 15000ft (4507 meters). According to local legend, its snow-capped summit is the eternal resting place of the souls of the pure and virtuous. By contrast, the westernmost peak in the range, Nyiragongo 11382ft (3470 meters), is said to be the place where doomed souls are sent to expiate their sins.
Few volcanoes are as spectacular as Mount Nyiragongo. Known for its active lava lake and (relatively) frequent eruptions, this incredible volcano has the potential for widespread disaster. Unfortunately, political unrest prevents the scientific community from studying the dangerous volcano in depth. But as seen in these breathtaking images, scientists and photographers have still been able to capture the bubbling, fiery lava that churns within the mountain’s lava lake.
I can’t like this clip enough. Two different volcanoes in Virunga National Park erupting at the same time. Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira, at night, with some star trails, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Mount Nyiragongo, the most active volcano in Africa, erupted in 2002, 2007 and 2010, sending molten lava spewing into Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu province. In 1977 the lava raced down the hillside at 60 miles per hour, the fastest ever recorded.