Nyiragongo is an active stratovolcano situated on the Eastern African
Rift; it is part of Africas Virunga Volcanic Chain. In a massive
eruption that occurred on January 17, 2002, Nyiragongo sent a vast plume
of smoke and ash skyward, and three swifly-moving rivers of lava
streaming down its western and eastern flanks. Previous lava flows from
Nyiragongo have been observed moving at speeds of up to 40 miles per
hour (60 kph). The lava flows from the January 17 eruption destroyed
more than 14 villages in the surrounding countryside, forcing tens of
thousands to flee into the neighboring country of Rwanda.
Within one day the lava ran to the city of Goma, situated on
the northern shore of Lake Kivu about 12 miles (19 km) south of
Nyiragongo. The lava cut a 200 foot (60 meter) wide swath right through Goma,
setting off many fires, as it ran into Lake Kivu. Goma, the most
heavily populated city in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, is home
to about 400,000 people. Most of these citizens were forced to flee,
while many have begun to return to their homes only to find their homes
This true-color scene was captured by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper
Plus (ETM+), flying aboard the Landsat 7 satellite, on December 11,
2001, just over a month before the most recent eruption. Nyiragongos
large crater is clearly visible in the image. As
recently as June 1994, there was a large lava lake in the volcanos
crater which had since solidified. The larger Nyamuragira Volcano is
located roughly 13 miles (21 km) to the north of Nyiragongo. Nyamuragira last erupted in February and March 2001. That eruption was also marked by columns of erupted ash and long fluid lava
flows, some of which are apparent in the image as dark greyish swaths radiating away from Nyamuragira. Both peaks are also notorious for
releasing large amounts of sulfur dioxide, which presents another health
hazard to people and animals living in close proximity.
Mount Nyiragongo, located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, erupted on January 17, 2002, ejecting a large cloud of smoke and ash high into the sky and spewing lava down three sides of the volcano. One river of lava flowed right through the center of Goma and into Lake Kivu, effectively bisecting the city.
When the African volcano Nyiragongo erupted unusually fluid lava in January 2002, nearly 500,000 Congo citizens were displaced, and dozens were killed. The lava did not erupt from the central crater, but instead ran from fissures along the southern slopes, just north of the city of Goma.
In central Africa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sit two volcanoes: Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira. Besides their proximity to Lake Kivu in the south, these volcanoes share the capacity for destruction, each having produced its share of catastrophic eruptions since the early twentieth century. Yet these volcanoes differ markedly from each other, one being a low-profiled structure rising subtly from the plain, and the other sporting steep slopes.