Nyamuragira Volcano | John Seach


Democratic Republic of Congo

1.408 S, 29.20 E
summit elevation 3056 m
shield volcano

Nyamuragira volcano is the most active in Africa. The summit contains a caldera 2 km in diameter and 100 m deep. The volcano has a base diameter of about 20 km and is almost perfectly symmetrical. Nyamuragira volcano covers an area of 800 sq km north of Lake Kivu. Nyamuragira magmas have very low viscosity due to low silica content.

The slopes are about 10-20 degrees near the summit, reducing to 3 degrees near the base. Nyamuragira differs from the other volcanoes in the Virunga range because of its shield volcano structure. The main cone is well preserved with a diameter of 15 km. Many parasitic cones are visible on the flanks of the volcano.

Eruptions of Nyamuragira volcano
Between 1865 and 2011 there have been 43 confirmed eruptions of Nyamuragira volcano, with an average of 3.5 years between eruptions. Since 1980 there has been an average of one eruption every two years.

2018-2022 eruptions
Eruptions continue at Nyamuragira volcano in 2022. Satellite images show hotspots at the crater.

2017 Eruption
Satellite images showed hotspots at Nyamuragira volcano in early 2017, indicating ongoing eruptions.

2014-16 Lava lake
An active lava lake was present at Nyamuragira volcano during 2014-16. This is the first time in more than 50 years that a lava lake appeared at the volcano.

2011-12 Eruption
A flank eruption began at Nyamuragira volcano on the evening of 6th November 2011. A 1 km long fissure opened with lava fountains. Park rangers were the first to report the eruption. A sky glow was seen by observers in Goma during the night. Lava fountains reached a height of 400 m and a new cone was formed. The eruption occurred from a 500m-1000m long fissure which runs perpendicular to the Albertine rift. A lava flow extended north from the fissure along relatively flat land. Satellite images showed a large sulphur dioxide plume extending west of the eruption site. lava flows which extend over a distance of 11.5 km. Lava flows advanced northwards and reached within 5 km of Kalengera-Tongo road.

2010 Eruption
An eruption began at Nyamuragira volcano on 2nd January 2010 at 4:58 am local time. Lava flowed 500 m in a direction south and southwest of the volcano. After 4 days lava has traveled 21 kilometers, and is only 7 kilometers from the Goma-Sake road. Four craters were active at the beginning of the eruption. The lava flows are still within the boundaries of Virunga National Park.
15th January 2010 update.
Eruptions continue at Nyamuragira volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Lava could cover the Goma and Sake road within weeks. Ash and gas emissions from the volcano have caused health problems for residents. Drinking water from open springs and rainwater catchments in Sake, Kingi and Rusayo have been contaminated by ash. Health centres at Sake and Rusayo have reported increasing cases of diarrhoea, and eye diseases. People around the volcano have reported death of domestic animals and damage to crops. It is estimated that 52,096 people are affected, including: 7,901 from Mugunga (Mumbabiro), 13, 000 from Rusayo and 31,195 from Sake & Kingi localities.

2009 Unrest

Seismic activity has increased near Nyamuragira volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo in April 2009. According to scientists at Goma Volcano Observatory, Nyamuragira volcano will be in eruption in the next two or three months.

1989 Eruption
In 1989 an eruption at Nyamuragira volcano began at the summit and later changed to a flank eruption.

Between 1976 and 1989, seven Hawaiian-type eruptions occurred. The eruptions produced fluid lava flows wich sometimes extended 20 km. Small scoria or spatter cones were formed around the vent. Most of the eruptions occurred on the flank of the volcano.

1986 Eruption
Kitazungurwa eruption started on 16th July 1986, on the southern flank of Nyamuragira volcano and lasted 36 days. A 1 km wide, 2 m high lava flow traveled south. The total volume of erupted products is estimated to be 50 million cubic m. During the 1986 eruption, the chemical composition of the erupted products became more mafic.

1971 Eruption
An eruption of Nyamuragira volcano began on 24th March 1971 from Rugarama cone. Rumblimg was heard from a distance of 10 km and a glow visible from 50 km.

1938-40 Eruption
On 28 January 1938 a large collapse occurred at the volcano and the crater floor sank by several hundred metres. This was accompanied by the opening of fissures, lava flows and strombolian eruptions.

Further reading
Bluth, G.J.S. and Carn, S.A., 2008. Exceptional sulfur degassing from Nyamuragira volcano, 1979–2005. International Journal of Remote Sensing29(22), pp.6667-6685.

Carn, S.A. and Bluth, G.J.S., 2003. Prodigious sulfur dioxide emissions from Nyamuragira volcano, DR Congo. Geophysical Research Letters30(23).

Demant, A., Lestrade, P., Lubala, R.T., Kampunzu, A.B. and Durieux, J., 1994. Volcanological and petrological evolution of Nyiragongo volcano, Virunga volcanic field, Zaire. Bulletin of Volcanology56(1), pp.47-61.

Kasahara, M., Tanaka, K. and Zana, N., 1991. A flank eruption of volcano Nyamuragira in 1991. Journal of African Studies1991(39), pp.29-50.

Aoki, Ken-Ichiro, et al. "Petrology and geochemistry of the Nyamuragira volcano, Zaire." Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 25.1-2 (1985): 1-28.

Nyamuragira Volcano Eruptions

2018-2022, 2014-17, 2011-12, 2010, 2006, 2004, 2002, 2001, 1998, 1996, 1994, 1991-93, 1989, 1987-88, 1986, 1984, 1981-82, 1980, 1976-77, 1971, 1967, 1958, 1957, 1956, 1954, 1951-52, 1951, 1948, 1938-40, 1921-38, 1920, 1912-13, 1909, 1908, 1907, 1907, 1906?, 1905, 1904, 1902, 1901, 1899, 1896, 1894, 1882, 1865.