In DepthNatural Hazards

Lava lake rises at dangerous African volcano

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Science  16 Oct 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6514, pp. 270-271
DOI: 10.1126/science.370.6514.270

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Summary

In 2002, the last time Nyiragongo volcano erupted, lava raced down its flanks into the crowded city of Goma, on the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. About 250 people died, 20% of the city was destroyed, and hundreds of thousands fled. Since then, the at-risk population living in the shadow of the 3470-meter-tall volcano has more than doubled to 1.5 million. Now, conditions are ripe for another disaster, researchers say. A February scientific campaign into the volcano's roiling crater found the lava lake there filling at an alarming rate, raising the risk that the molten rock could burst through the crater walls once again. An analysis, published in August, suggests peak hazard will arrive in 4 years, although researchers believe an earthquake could trigger a crisis earlier. Adding to the concerns, the Goma Volcano Observatory, the only monitoring station in the region, is losing its financial support from the World Bank.

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