Webpage by:
Theresa Kayzar “T.K.”

Lake Kivu: An Ignored Threat
Could it be the disaster of our lifetime?

Lake Kivu picture from Nasa

Image from NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

 

Lake Kivu, located 100 miles north of Lake Tanganyika at the highest point of the East-African Rift Valley (approximately 1500m in elevation), is one of three known volcanic lakes in the world that contain high dissolved volumes of CO2 in their deeper waters; the other known volcanic lakes are Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun in Cameroon (Degens et al, 1973; Witze, 2002).

Lake Kivu has remained stably stratified for thousands of years; however, in the last few decades much attention in the scientific field has been directed towards the lake. A heat flux into the lake, or other meteorological and limnological forces may cause an overturn, or later described “rollover”, of the lake releasing the dissolved CO2 from pressure and causing a discharge of gas that could devastate communities located on or near the lake (Rice, 2000; Kling, 1989). Lake Kivu sits very close to the neighboring Nyiragongo Volcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

City on Lake Kivu:

Population

DRC

 

Goma

77,908

Bukavu

167,950

Rwanda

 

Cyangugu

514, 656

Kibuye

469, 016

Gisenyi

864,377

Total

2,093,907

Population Statistics

Potential Hazards for Lake Kivu Overturning:
Activity on or near Nyiragongo Volcano
Landslides
Earthquakes
 

Fortunately, the lake has remained undisturbed. Past opinions have stated that because of the great stability of the lake, it is highly improbable that any overturning or release of CO2 will occur within Lake Kivu (Kling, 1989; Witze, 2002). This study attempts to show the contrary; that a possible release of fatal gas is a hazard associated with the lake and the increasing levels of volcanism and rifting in the area.

Zoom in movie of Lake Kivu

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