Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Imagery Of Nyamuragira Eruption In Congo


The eruption of Nyamuragira in the Congo continues, and NASA has released new photos of the lava flow from space. The (infrared) image shows the heat coming off of the lava flow, as well as the red glow of the Nyiragongo crater to the West. The lava flow is South of Nyamuragira and has extended several miles from the fissure cone area. The volcano has now been erupting for several months.

Nyamuragira and its neighbor Nyiragongo are a couple of Africa's most active volcanoes, having had many historical eruptions. They are considered to be dangerous volcanoes, as lava lake drainage has destroyed villages and caused fatalities in the past. One of the most interesting things I have ever seen about this volcano is how it occasionally catches elephants off guard and creates a lava 'casting' of an elephant in its flow. The lava erupted from these volcanoes is very silicic pahoehoe, and has been known to flow at speeds up to 60mph (not a lava flow you would be able to outrun, like Hawaii volcanoes)!

The current eruption at Nyamuragira does not currently threaten any developed area, or the area where the famed and highly endangered mountain lowland gorillas live. For now, this is a great eruption for tourists, and the Congo has seen a marked increase in the number of eco-tourism to the embattled nation-state.

Enjoy the photo from NASA's Earth Observatory!
                                  

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