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Nyamuragira from space and from the ground 23 January 2010

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At the European Space Agency ‘portal’ (or, if you prefer, ‘website’) there is an interesting article about the ways in which the ESA’s Envisat has helped to monitor the Nyamuragira eruption in D. R. Congo as part of the GORISK project for using ground-based and remote sensing techniques as a tool for volcanic risk and health impact assessment for the Goma region. Dr Nicholas D’Oreye of GORISK explains the importance of the satellite contribution:

As well as helping to validate information from different datasets, the satellite images are providing invaluable information about the situation, such as the details about the lava flow and the fact that the Nyiragongo volcano is not showing any signs of abnormal activity. This has been of great importance for the local authorities and the Goma Volcano Observatory, who are holding daily crisis meetings, to reassure the local population and humanitarian agencies that Nyiragongo will be unaffected by the eruption of Nyamulagira.

Meanwhile, from ground level, the gorilla.cd blog offers a gorilla’s-eye view of the Nyamuragira eruption with some pictures of lava fountain activity taken from the Gorilla Sector of Virunga National Park.

News
Congo receives help from space after volcano eruption – ESA news release, 22 January 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Nyamuragira – summary information for Nyamuragira (0203-02=)

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Nyamuragira: what the satellites say 18 January 2010

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Little fresh news is coming from Africa about the eruption of Nyamuragira volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo that began two weeks ago, but satellite data indicates that the activity is continuing.

The availability of MODIS hotspot data is affected by cloud cover, which has been considerable in the area of the volcano over recent days. However, MODIS images for 13 and 15 January shows the thermal signatures of fresh lava emissions to the east and south of Nyamuragira’s summit crater.

MODIS hotspots at Nyamuragira volcano, D. R. Congo, 13 and 15 January 2010
MODIS hotspots at Nyamuragira volcano, D. R. Congo, 13 and 15 January 2010.

The volcano has also been emitting considerable quantities of sulphur dioxide, as shown by OMI SO2 data. Significant SO2 clouds were detected on 13 and 17 January 2010.

Nyamuragira, D. R. Congo - OMI SO2 composite image 13 January 2010
Nyamuragira, D. R. Congo – OMI SO2 composite image 13 January 2010.

Nyamuragira, D. R. Congo - OMI SO2 composite image 17 January 2010
Nyamuragira, D. R. Congo – OMI SO2 composite image 17 January 2010.

For all our Nyamuragira coverage: Nyamuragira « The Volcanism Blog.

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Nyamuragira – summary information for Nyamuragira (0203-02=)

The Volcanism Blog

Nyamuragira activity diminishes – report 12 January 2010

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The latest information on the eruption of Nyamuragira volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo comes from Samantha Newport, director of communications for Virunga National Park, who reports in a comment at the gorilla.cd blog dated 11 January 2010 that lava fountains were reaching almost 300 metres in height on Saturday 9 January, but that volcanic activity had since diminished. The decline in activity appears to be confirmed by the fact that no thermal hotspots have been detected by MODIS at Nyamuragira since 8 January 2010 (although that doesn’t mean nothing has been happening).

Nyamuragira volcanic eruption, UNOSAT map 4 January 2010

The image above, from UNOSAT (original PDF document here), shows thermal anomalies on the eastern and southern flanks of Nyamuragira volcano detected by the Aqua satellite’s MODIS on 4 January 2010. Source: Reuters Alertnet.

News
Nyamuragira volcanic eruption – Reuters AlertNet, 8 January 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Nyamuragira – summary information for Nyamuragira (0203-02=)

The Volcanism Blog

Nyamuragira continues to erupt 7 January 2010

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MODIS hotspots at Nyamuragira volcano, D. R. Congo, 2-6 January 2010

Five days after it began the eruption of Nyamuragira volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo is continuing, with fire fountains and very liquid and free-flowing lava. The images above, compiled from the University of Hawaii MODIS hotspots monitoring website, show the thermal signatures detected by satellite on 2, 3, 4 and 6 January 2010 (the 5 January image shows no hotspots). The flows are directed towards the south-west. The large lake is Lake Kivu, and the small body of water to its north-west is the Gulf of Kabuno. The high level of CO2 present in the Gulf of Kabuno is a potential hazard we discussed here yesterday.

The most up-to-date information on the eruption comes from the people on the spot at the Virunga National Park: an entry dated 5 January at the gorillacd blog (including dramatic aerial photographs) reports that lava had travelled 21 km from the vent, but a comment on that entry dated 7 January updates this with information from the UN to say that the advance of the lava has slowed, with only 100 metres of advance in the last 24 hours, not because the eruption rate has slowed – the activity of the volcano remains intense – but because the lava front has widened from 15 metres to about 200 metres. More news and links to sources of information for this eruption can be found at OpEdNews: ‘Congo volcano still active’.

‘The Virunga National Park, home to 200 of the world’s 720 mountain gorillas, is in the path of molten hot lava spewing from a volcano that has erupted in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’, reports redOrbit (lava that is molten and hot is recognized by volcanologists as the worst kind). The New Zealand Herald observes that the park is ‘home to a spectacular range of mega fauna’ and reports that ‘the eruption has been “very destructive” to the chimpanzee range’ – and also says that Nyamuragira is ‘believed to be the most active volcano in the world’. If so, this is an erroneous belief. ITN reports that ash is contaminating local water supplies, leading to an increase in local people suffering cholera and diarrhoea. The New Scientist has chosen to headline its report on the Nyamuragira eruption ‘Troops protect chimps from volcano lava’, which conjures up some weird images but is in fact a reference to the United Nations force in Congo (MONUC) offering to lend aircraft to the park authorities to help them monitor the progress of the eruption and – as far as possible – protect the park’s population of endangered chimpanzees from its effects.

News
Troops protect chimps from volcano lavaNew Scientist, 5 January 2010
Raw video: Congo volcano spews lavaWashington Post, 5 January 2010
DRC national park in path of erupting volcano – redOrbit, 5 January 2010
Eruption menaces endangered chimps’ Congo homeNew Zealand Herald, 5 January 2010
Congo volcano continues to erupt – ITN, 6 January 2010
Congo volcanic eruption threatens to surround native chimps with lava – Discover Blogs, 6 January 2010
Congo volcano still active: lava flow approaches Goma/Bukavu road – OpEdNews, 6 January 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Nyamuragira – summary information for Nyamuragira (0203-02=)

The Volcanism Blog

Nyamuragira pours out lava as eruption continues 5 January 2010

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The eruption of Nyamuragira volcano (also known as Nyamulagira) in the Democratic Republic of Congo which began early on 2 January is continuing and seems to be increasing in intensity, raising concerns about local human and animal populations. Lava flows are causing forest fires around the volcano and some reports say nearby villages are threatened by the eruption. The United Nations is providing aircraft to help the local authorities monitor the eruption. There are some reports that the emission of lava is accelerating.

The BBC and NTV Kenya have some spectacular video footage of the eruption, including dramatic lava fountaining (the NTV video is also available at YouTube). Nyamuragira’s lava is of very low viscosity – Eruptions explains why – and can run a long way (tens of kilometres) from the active vent.

In an interview with Radio France International the director of the Goma Volcanological Observatory, Katcho Karumé, confirms that the eruption does not constitute a danger for the city of Goma, 22 km to the south-east, but that if lava reaches the Gulf of Kabono, north-west of Lake Kivu, explosions could cause the release of large amounts of CO2 sitting just below the surface of the water, which (as in the 1986 Lake Nyos disaster) could cause the asphyxiation of people living nearby:

The large lake Kivu, which has a lot of methane, does not represent too much danger, but there is a small lake called the Gulf of Kabuno in which there is more CO2 than methane. Evidently, the situation is not yet at the stage of saturation but many researchers along with ourselves think that we are not far from this situation of saturation. If the flow of lava continues and it empties into the peninsula of Kabuno, and this small lake beside the large lake Kivu, this could lead to explosions if it approaches saturation.

In August last year scientists reported that thousands of people were at risk from the CO2 pocket in the Gulf of Kabuno:

An estimated three cubic kilometres of carbon dioxide lie just 12 metres below the surface of the gulf, which sits atop a tectonic faultline. Scientists fear a major earthquake or large lava flow from a nearby volcano could provoke a giant release of gas, creating a deadly cloud.

Katcho Karumé told Radio France International that this is not an imminent threat: only after ‘around 17 days of sustained emission of lava’ would there be a danger of the lava reaching the Gulf of Kabuno. However, as noted above, Nyamuragira’s lavas run very freely and have the potential to reach very far.

UPDATE. Interesting articles about Nyamuragira at Greg Laden’s blog: ‘The Volcano Nyamuragira: Some Context’ and ‘Nyamulagira Volcano and Human Evolution’.

News
La lave du volcan Nyamulagira continue de couler dans la forêt – Direct.cd, 3 January 2010
Congo volcano threat to villages – BBC News, 3 January 2010
Congo’s Nyamulagira volcano erupts – NTV Kenya, 3 January 2010 (video also at YouTube)
L’éruption du volcan Nyamulagira suscite l’inquiétude – Radio France International, 4 January 2010
Volcanic lava threatens DRCongo national park – AFP, 4 January 2010
Eruption du Nyamulagira en RDC: doublement de la quantité de lave rejetée – AFP, 4 January 2010
UN offers DRC support after volcanic eruption – Times Live, 5 January 2010
Lava gains speed in Congo park – Independent Online, 5 January 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Nyamuragira – summary information for Nyamuragira (0203-02=)

The Volcanism Blog

Eruption reported at Nyamuragira 2 January 2010

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Wildlife officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo are reporting an eruption of Nyamuragira volcano in the early hours of Saturday 2 January 2010. Congolese Wildlife Authority rangers in Virunga National Park reported hearing a loud explosion at 03:45 local time (01:45 UTC), and seeing lava flowing from Nyamuragira’s crater. The lava is reported to be flowing southward, towards areas of human habitation. The eruption may also threaten local wildlife, including populations of rare chimpanzees.

News
Volcano erupts in Congo – CNN.com, 2 January 2010
DR Congo volcano eruption threatens rare chimpanzees – BBC News, 2 January 2010
Volcano erupts in eastern Congo, official saysNew York Times, 2 January 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Nyamuragira – summary information for Nyamuragira (0203-02=)

The Volcanism Blog

Eruption at Nyamuragira 22 October 2009

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Nyamuragira volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo is reported to have erupted on Monday 19 October. Lava flowed northwards, away from the town of Goma which is to the south of Nyamuragira’s southern neighbour, Nyiragongo.

There are no reports of casualties or any disruption, but the area has been the scene of fighting between the DR Congolese army and rebels, and local relief agencies are concerned that further eruptive activity could prevent them getting help to where it’s needed.

UPDATE. The volcano-watchers at Activolcans have been checking thermal anomalies at Nyamuragira/Nyiragongo and have left a comment below which raises a cautionary note: this may not have been an eruption of Nyamuragira.

News
Goma safe after volcanic eruptionThe Southern Times, 22 October 2009

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Nyamuragira – summary information for Nyamuragira (0203-02=)
Nyamuragira volcano – information from Volcano Discovery
Africa Volcanoes and Volcanics – information from the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory

The Volcanism Blog

Ethiopian eruption: scientists on ground, shoes melt 13 July 2009

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The first on-the-ground reports from the location of the recent eruption in the Manda Hararo volcanic field in Ethiopia have come from David Ferguson, a doctoral student in geology at the University of Oxford. He is reporting on his work on the volcanics of the Afar region in a series of blog postings for The Guardian.

Part 1 describes how he dropped everything and flew out there to take a look at what was going on, part 2 and part 3 (with photographs, including a wonderful aerial view of an eruptive fissure) see him reach the location courtesy of the Ethiopian Army, while part 4 (with more pictures) is an account of what he found once he got there with his Ethiopian colleagues:

As we reached the front of the lava flow one of our group, Dr Elias Lewi, walked out over its brittle surface, quickly turning back as his shoes begin to melt. Although only a few days old, the lava had a dark black crust and was deceptively similar to other, much colder flows. The real temperature was revealed by Talfan Barnie, a PhD student from Cambridge, who used a thermal infra-red camera to ‘see’ temperatures of up to 162C around the cracks and fractures across the flow surface.

We had to be very careful where we trod.

David Ferguson reports extensive (~10 square km) fresh lava flows from the eruption, about 3 m high at the margins, gas emissions, and a 5-kilometre fissure and central vent producing a small plume. There is more on Manda Hararo in the Global Volcanism Program’s Weekly Volcanic Activity Report for 1-7 July.

The Volcanism Blog

New eruption in the Afar region of Ethiopia 2 July 2009

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Thermal anomalies and dense sulphur dioxide plumes in Ethiopia appear to indicate that a significant effusive eruption has taken place in the Manda Hararo area of the western Afar region. There is as yet no visual confirmation of the eruption from the ground.

There was a VEI=2 eruption at the Manda Hararo volcanic complex in August 2007, and a larger (possibly VEI=3) eruption in the Alu-Dalaffilla region in November 2008. In terms of size, volcanic SO2 expert Prof Simon Carn of Michigan Technical University reports that the current Manda Hararo event seems to lie somewhere between the two.

The MODIS thermal alerts service at the University of Hawaii has shown hotspots of varying intensity over a considerable area of the Manda Hararo region since 27 June, while the OMI Sulfur Dioxide Group has mapped considerable SO2 emissions on 29 and 30 June:

Aura/OMI - 06/29/2009 10:21-12:03 UT (NASA/KNMI/NIVR/FMI)

Aura/OMI - 06/30/2009 11:04-11:08 UT (NASA/KNMI/NIVR/FMI)

[Thanks to Volcanism Blog reader Gijs de Reijke for information received.]

UPDATE: Dr Erik Klemetti has an informative post about this event at Eruptions. He has also wisely used maps showing up-to-date political boundaries, thus saving himself a heap of trouble.

For other Ethiopian volcanism coverage: Ethiopia « The Volcanism Blog.

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Manda Hararo – summary information for Manda Hararo (0201-115)

The Volcanism Blog

Nyiragongo: eruption imminent? 8 May 2009

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Following recent reports of activity at Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo, scientists at the Goma Volcanological Observatory are warning that an eruption may be ‘imminent’ at both Nyiragongo and its neighbour Nyamuragira (alternative spelling Nyamulagira). A field trip to both volcanoes revealed tremors, emissions and ‘pools of lava’, and Dieudonne Wafula, head of the observatory, is quoted by the UN’s humanitarian news network IRIN as saying that ‘The volcanoes could erupt any time; it could be in two days, or a week or two but not later than two months from now’.

Wafula warned that the city of Goma could be threatened by any eruption, but said that lava levels at Nyiragongo were low, reducing the chance of severe damage to the city.

UPDATE: The BBC has picked up on the story, reporting that Mr Wafula thinks Nyamuragira is more likely to erupt than Nyiragongo, and suggesting that the residents of Goma are well used to their local volcanoes and have rather a blasé attitude towards their lava flows, fumes, ash emissions etc: ‘A resident of Goma told the BBC said people were talking about the volcanoes and that they had noticed a rise in temperature in recent days, but that otherwise the situation inside Goma was normal’.

(The Goma Volcanological Observatory does not have a website.)

News
DRC-RWANDA: Volcanic activity ‘threatens Goma’ – IRIN, 7 May 2009
DRC-RWANDA: Volcanic activity ‘threatens Goma’ – Reuters AlertNet, 7 May 2009
Scientist says volcanic eruption in Congo imminent – Associated Press, 7 May 2009
DR Congo volcano ‘may soon erupt’ – BBC News, 8 May 2009

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Nyiragongo – summary information for Nyiragongo (0203-03=)
Global Volcanism Program: Nyamuragira – summary information for Nyamuragira (0203-02=)

The Volcanism Blog