Nyamuragira Volcano Crater

March 26, 2001


Provided by: JPL
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster

The above radar image was taken from the space shuttle and shows the crater of the Nyamurgaira volcano (bottom center) in the eastern Congo. The purple stripes emanating from the crater area are remnant lava flows from past eruptions.

The volcanic region of the Congo is located in the Virunga mountain chain that forms part of the boundary between the Congo and Uganda and Rwanda. This is where naturalist Diann Fossey studied mountain gorillas. The Virunga volcanoes are likely the most youthful geologic features in Africa, and Nyamuragira is Africa's most active volcano. Since 1882, it has erupted 34 times.

Early last month, Nyamuragira spewed thousands of tons of molten lava, and it was reported about 10 days ago that it has again increased its output of lava. The lava from the Virunda volcanoes is extremely fluid and therefore fast moving. Thus far, no deaths have been reported, but forests have been charred and valuable farmlands have had to be abandoned. Fortunately, the lava has been flowing toward an area near the sparsely populated Virunga National Park. However, as a precaution, several villages have been evacuated.

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