Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mount Cameroon in West Africa Erupts

Mount Cameroon, West Africa's highest volcano, displayed a brief amount of explosive activity, according to a report from OfficialWire.com. Mount Cameroon is Cameroon's most active volcano, one of many in a SW-NE trending line which include the also deadly and famed Lake Nyos. Cameroon's last major eruption in the 1999 resulted in a long pahoehoe lava flow that stopped just short of the coast.

While some reports of volcanic activity out of Africa are mistaken for wildfire, or plain false, Cameroon's frequent activity and reports from the area are typically accurate. There have been several "less than credible" accounts of some eruptions in Africa, like the supposed eruption in Nigeria around a year ago that turned out to be not only false, but politically motivated (the villagers were feeling a bit neglected by their government, so their local news fabricated a story about a volcanic eruption in an area not known for any previous volcanism). This is unfortunately common in Africa, a continent gripped by poverty, hardship, and militaristic rule.

Whether the Smithsonian GVP publishes this activity in their weekly volcanic eruption update remains to be seen (they publish their weekly reports on Wednesday at about 12PM PST typically). This was the only article I found that cites this activity, however Africa does not have a well-equipped news corps, so reports from the area are typically few and far between, and sometimes full of speculation.

(From Smithsonian GVP):

"Mount Cameroon, one of Africa's largest volcanoes, rises to 4095 m above the coast of west Cameroon. The massive steep-sided volcano of dominantly basaltic-to-trachybasaltic composition forms a volcanic horst constructed above a basement of Precambrian metamorphic rocks covered with Cretaceous to Quaternary sediments. More than 100 small cinder cones, often fissure-controlled parallel to the long axis of the massive 1400 cu km volcano, occur on the flanks and surrounding lowlands. A large satellitic peak, Etinde (also known as Little Cameroon), is located on the southern flank near the coast. Historical activity, the most frequent of west African volcanoes, was first observed in the 5th century BC by the Carthaginian navigator Hannon. During historical time, moderate explosive and effusive eruptions have occurred from both summit and flank vents. A 1922 SW-flank eruption produced a lava flow that reached the Atlantic coast, and a lava flow from a 1999 south-flank eruption stopped only 200 m from the sea."

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