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

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Treating arthritis with algae

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Witnessing turbulent motion in the atmosphere of a distant star

23.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>