Recent eruptive activity at Nyamulagira: there is currently NO LAVA LAKE.

First publication: 10 September 2014
Updated: 21 October 2014

Sporadically from April 2014, then more systematically since 22nd June 2014, a red glow has become visible on top of Nyamulagira (or Nyamuragira), the most western volcano of the Virunga Volcanic Province. On 1st  and 5th July 2014, helicopter flights confirmed the presence of lava fountains in the 400 × 600 m-wide pit crater located in the NE sector of the caldera.

First information on the Internet about this new eruptive activity came from the NASA Earth Observatory [1], which published a satellite image acquired by Landsat 8 on 30th June 2014, where a strong red glow is visible in the Nyamulagira caldera.  NASA said that a new lava lake appeared at Nyamulagira, but field observations deny this affirmation. Indeed, if the red glow on the Landsat image looks similar to the one caused by the Nyiragongo lava lake, it is however caused by fire fountains. So, currently, there is no active lava lake sensu stricto at Nyamulagira

Unfortunately, this misleading information was quickly relayed on several websites (e.g. [2] [3]) and even in scientific literature [4], as it is often the case for this volcano and the neighbouring Nyiragongo.

More (correct) information about this activity has been published in EOS Transactions. In addition, images of this activity, which were acquired in early July 2014 by N. d’Oreye, F. Kervyn and me during helicopter flights and field work in the Nyamulagira caldera, are available here (Click on the image below).

Fire fountains observed in the pit crater located in the NE part of the Nyamulagira caldera, on 1st July 2014. Photo (c) B. Smets

Fire fountains observed in the pit crater located in the NE part of the Nyamulagira caldera, on 1st July 2014.
Photo: (c) B. Smets – 2014

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