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Hot spots at Nyiragongo 5 May 2009

Posted by admin in activity reports, Africa, Congo (Dem. Rep.), eruptions, Nyiragongo.
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The United Nations satellite programme UNOSAT has issued a bulletin (available in PDF as a low-res 1.1 MB or high-res 5.5 MB document) about MODIS-detected hot spots at Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo:

Analysis summary: The satellite-detected thermal anomalies on the Nyiragongo volcano are centered over the main crater and extend up to 3km along the eastern and western slopes. These thermal anomalies are likely to represent active fires and/or volcanic material on the surface of the volcano, and have been identified on six separate days over the time period 10 April – 4 May 2009. The MODIS satellite image below recorded on 4 May shows [a] volcanic eruption in progress, with a primary westerly outflow direction. This is a preliminary assessment and has not yet been validated on the ground.

The MODIS satellite image referred to in the summary is reproduced below:

Nyiragongo - MODIS satellite image, 4 May 2009

UNOSAT have also mapped the hot spot areas onto a map of the Nyiragongo area. Below is a detail of the volcano itself, showing the red outlines of areas where MODIS has detected heat sources. The full map is available via the UNOSAT links above.

Nyiragongo - UNOSAT map, 4 May 2009

There have been reports of restlessness at Nyiragongo (and its neighbour Nyamuragira) since March this year. The University of Hawaii MODVOLCS site shows thermal anomalies at Nyiragongo on several occasions during April and early May, and the SI/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report for 1-7 April 2009 gave details of lava lake activity and lava fountaining at Nyiragongo, among other signs of heightened activity. The MODIS evidence published by UNOSAT indicates that some lava has been erupted over the last 24 hours. Nyiragongo is potentially a very hazardous volcano in a densely-populated and troubled region, and future developments need to be carefully monitored.

[Imagery acknowledgements: UNOSAT, NASA, University of Maryland]

UPDATE 7 May 2009. Pierre Vetsch of the Société de Volcanologie Genève reports (see comment here) that according to a contact in Goma, Nyiragongo volcano is in a ‘normal state of activity’ with no lava eruption on the flanks.

Thermal Activity Detection over Nyiragongo Volcano, North Kivu, DRC – Reuters AlertNet, 5 May 2009

Global Volcanism Program: Nyiragongo – summary information for Nyiragongo (0203-03=)

The Volcanism Blog


1. Fresh Bilge » Active - 6 May 2009

[…] Volcanism Blog has two recent posts worthy of attention. First, from Africa, a report on the increasing activity at the dangerous Nyiragongo Volcano, which has a history of pouring fluid, fast-moving lava into inhabited lands nearby. From the […]

2. Vetsch - 7 May 2009

After a contact (06.05.09) at Goma, Nyiragongo is in normal state of activity (no lava flows on flanks) with the lava lake slowing rising by overflows

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