Webpage by:
Theresa Kayzar “T.K.”

Can earthquakes cause lake rollover?

seimic africa02

Can earthquakes near Lake Kivu trigger the overturn of the lake? No one really knows...

Monitoring the seismic activity near Lake Kivu has not been an easy task. Seismic stations have been repeatedly destroyed and unfortunately, there is no solid database of historic activity other than that recorded during the 2002 eruption of Nyiragongo.

Past Seismic Activity
Major Events during 2002 Nyiragongo Eruption

JAN 20 00 14 44.3 1.681 S 28.981 E 10 G 5.1 1.0 77 LAC KIVU REGION, DEM. REP. OF THE CONGO. MW 5.1 (HRV). mb 4.9 (GS). MS 4.6 (GS). mbLg 5.2 (GS). Mo 5.9*10**16 Nm (HRV). Casualties and damage are included with the event of January 17 at 20:01 UTC. Felt strongly at Kimironko; felt at Ruhengeri, Rwanda. Also felt at Bukavu and Goma, Congo.

JAN 21 04 39 21.6 1.776 S 29.041 E 10 G 5.1 1.0 97 LAC KIVU REGION, DEM. REP. OF THE CONGO. MW 5.1 (HRV). mb 4.9 (GS). MS 4.5 (GS). mbLg 5.1 (GS). Mo 5.2*10**16 Nm (HRV). Casualties and damage are included with the event of January 17 at 20:01 UTC. Felt at Kimironko, Rwanda.

OCT 24 06 08 37.9 1.884 S 29.004 E 11 G 6.2 1.0 345 LAC KIVU REGION, DEM. REP. OF THE CONGO. MW 6.2 (HRV), 6.1 (GS). mb 5.9 (GS). MS 6.3 (GS). ME 5.7 (GS). Mo 2.2*10**18 Nm (HRV), 1.4*10**18 Nm (GS). Es 8.9*10**12 Nm (GS). Two people killed at Goma, several buildings damaged or destroyed at Lwiro and minor damage to buildings at Bukavu and Goma. One building destroyed at Mugera and several buildings damaged at Kigali, Rwanda. Felt as far south as Bujumbura, Burundi and as far north as Rutshuru, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

There have been many shallow events with magnitudes as high as 5 or 6 that have not caused rollover, so it is thought that an earthquake is an unlikely trigger for a major gas release.


The Truth of Seismic Monitoring Near Lake Kivu - A Timeline

6 seismic stations set up by Japanese after 1994 eruption of Nyiragongo

1996 only one station was operational

1996 a grenade hits Goma Volcano Observatory, GVO is looted

GVO employees lose pay

2002 Nyiragongo Eruption

only 2 seismic stations

no salary for GVO employees for 4 years

equipment for deformation monitoring destoyed by civil war and social disasters


Disaster of 2002 and loss of life prompts international support

Equipment Status Today

Equipment donated to monitor current activity (volcanic, seismic, etc.)

INGV (Italy)

New digital seismic network
5 stations
Direct/real time radio link to GVO


Installed Geochemistry lab for GVO to monitor Lake Kivu waters
3 meteorological stations to study gas dispersion


Barometers and thermometers to be used for EDM corrections
Deformation monitoring equipment (mainly spirit levels)


“Volcano Risk Reduction” funded a Toyota Landcruiser from Swiss Cooperative (DEZA) for GVO to use in the field

ECHO grant

provides pay for GVO employees starting in 2004

GVO is currently monitoring what they call “permanent tremor” and shallow earthquakes associated with the fracturing of flanks of Nyiragongo volcano during fissure eruptions. There is debate as to whether or not the mechanics of an earthquake in the area would be enough to overturn the stable lake.

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