Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nyamuragira (Democratic Republic of Congo) Erupts in a Spectacular Fissure Eruption

Africa's most active volcano is putting on a spectacular light show once again, as a 1km long fissure has opened up spewing rivers of molten lava. Nyamuragira erupts nearly every two years, occasionally causing destruction to the Virunga National Forest (home of up to 200 mountain lowland gorillas and other rare wildlife), and the city of Goma, which so far has escaped any damage (and they do not expect the current eruption to reach the city).

Nyamuragira used to contain one of the worlds largest lava lakes until it drained catastrophically in 1938. Since then it has erupted every couple of years or so, usually with flank or fissure eruptions outside the summit caldera. Its nearby cousin, Nyiragongo, is also one of the most active volcanoes in Africa, These volcanoes are part of a spreading rift, which causes them to be extremely active.

You can check out a great video of the fissure eruption here.

These eruptions typically last anywhere from a couple days, to weeks or months, and usually result in excellent footage of Hawaiian style fissure eruptions. Although this is an active and dangerous volcano, fatalities are usually a non-issue as the lava is slow moving (with the exception of the 1938 incident).

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