Nyiragongo Volcano is famous for the lava lakes which regularly appear in the summit crater. The first records of activity were in 1884, when there was explosive eruptions in the southern pit.
The volcano is a valuable location to study volcanic activity because of the presence of a lava lake. From a scientific viewpoint, lava lakes are valuable, because they provide an ongoing series of eruptions.
The main characteristic of a lava lake is that they are not fed by an ordinary type of eruption. They represent the uppermost level of convection currents which stir the magma column.
Lava flows from a normal eruption cool and solidify within minutes to days after extrusion. Even lava ponds which are hundreds of metres deep cool in a few years. Lava lakes are unique because they may remain molten for decades.
A June 2011 expedition to Nyiragongo volcano observed an active lava lake in the summit crater. The lava lake was deeper in the crater than 2008.
19th April 2009 Update
An increase in volcanic seismic activity has been detected at Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since January 2009, recurrent seismic swarms have been detected at Rusayo seismic station. The volcanic earthquakes have come mainly from Nyiragongo volcano, which contains an active lava lake. According to a report by scientists from the volcano observatory in Goma the same signs that preceded the 1977 and 2002 eruptions have been identified. The North-Kivu section of the DRC’s Red Cross has set up an emergency team to monitor the situation, by updating the contingency plan with regards to volcano eruptions, sensitizing populations and putting logistic means at their disposal, identifying sites for the displaced, and updating the warning system and plan of evacuation of populations. A meeting was organized between Goma and Gisenyi (Rwanda) branches to prepare coordinated operations. Since 7th April, 2009 the DRC’s Red Cross, under the coordination of the Federation, has launched joint operations of preparation and monitoring for two months in collaboration with the Red Cross, in order to mitigate the effects of lava flowing to high risk cities. This operation is expected to be implemented over 2 months, and will be completed by 2nd June 2009. The last eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano on 17 January, 2002 caused the displacement of about 400,000 people.
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