Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Seismic rumbling foretold Congo eruption

24.01.2002


Scientists received several day’s warning of abnormal seismic activity.


Evacuees leaving Goma after the lava flows.
© AP


Mount Nyiragongo in eastern Congo killed dozens in its biggest-ever eruption.
© Nature



Two seismological stations on Mount Nyiragongo in eastern Congo gave several days’ advance warning of the volcano’s possible eruption, scientists working in the area say.

But the lack of a functioning government in the war-torn region may have prevented the evacuation of the nearby city of Goma, where 45 were confirmed dead and an existing humanitarian crisis was worsened by the eruption.


For the past decade, a Japanese team has sought to maintain a seismic network at the volcano. In 1994, five monitoring units were donated by the US Geological Survey’s Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) to form the Goma Volcano Observatory.

But fighting in the area and looting of equipment by armed militia camped on the volcano itself regularly forced volcanologists to flee, according to Jacques Durieux, director of the Active Volcanoes Study Group in Lyon, France, who last visited Mount Nyiragongo with VDAP scientists in 1994.

According to the VDAP, only two monitoring stations were working properly before the eruption. VDAP scientists nevertheless received a warning on 12 January - five days before the first eruption - of the possibility of "abnormal seismic activity".

Durieux, who spoke with Congolese volcanologists on the day of the eruption, says that efforts were made to raise the alarm, but the lack of governance in Goma makes it unlikely that any plan to evacuate the city could have been implemented. Local volcanologists "have no staff and no pay", says Hawaii-based volcano consultant Jack Lockwood, who has accompanied Durieux on previous trips to Mount Nyiragongo.

Durieux now wants to improve the observation of Mount Nyiragongo and its neighbour, Mount Nyamuragira, some 14 km away, which is also active. But he says that "we can’t expect developing countries to pay".

Mount Nyiragongo last erupted in 1977, killing around 500 people, and threatened to do so again in June 1994, when some 800,000 refugees from Rwanda’s civil war were camped on its slopes. Last week’s eruption was the largest in the volcano’s history, according to geological evidence.

Predicting future eruptions of an active volcano such as Nyiragongo will require a far more elaborate monitoring system than the two stations currently in place, say VDAP scientists. The VDAP and other agencies have provided more comprehensive monitoring of volcanoes elsewhere in the developing world, but such monitoring is only carried out at the request of the host government. With the province of North Kivu, where Goma is situated, controlled by Rwandan-backed rebels, such a request was not forthcoming from the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa, say VDAP officials.

TOM CLARKE | © Nature News Service

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Sun's impact on climate change quantified for first time
27.03.2017 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

nachricht NASA examines Peru's deadly rainfall
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrical 'switch' in brain's capillary network monitors activity and controls blood flow

27.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Clock stars: Astrocytes keep time for brain, behavior

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Sun's impact on climate change quantified for first time

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>