First geocoded 3D model of the Nyiragongo crater!

Screenshot of a zoom in the orthophoto of the Nyiragongo crater, recently produced thanks to photographs acquired from a helicopter, in July 2014.

THIS IS NOT A PHOTOGRAPH. 😉   –   Screenshot of a zoom in the orthophoto of the Nyiragongo crater, recently produced thanks to photographs acquired from a helicopter, in July 2014. (Image acquisition realized with the support of Nikon BeLux)

[FR] Grâce aux photographies récoltées par hélicoptère en juillet 2014 (et grâce à un léger changement de stratégie dans le traitement des données), j’ai le plaisir d’annoncer la sortie d’un premier modèle numérique de terrain (MNT) du cratère principal du Nyiragongo.

Ce MNT a été produit à une résolution de 58 cm et couvre la majeure partie du cratère. Seules les parties cachées par le panache de gaz volcanique et le haut des flancs supérieurs n’ont pas été modélisés.

Le MNT est accompagné d’une orthophoto produite à une résolution de 15 cm. Les détails dans cette image (voir photo) sont à couper le souffle. Grâce à ces deux images nouvellement produites, je vais enfin pouvoir clôturer un des objectifs majeurs de ma thèse. … à 3 mois de la fin, il était temps ! 🙂


[EN] Thanks to photos acquired from a helicopter, in July 2014, (and thanks to small changes in the processing strategy) I have the pleasure to announce the release of a first digital elevation model (DEM) of the Nyiragongo main crater.

This DEM has a spatial resolution of 58 cm and covers almost all the main parts of the crater. Only parts hidden by the volcanic gas plume and the upper flanks were not modeled.

The DEM comes with an orthophoto, which has a spatial resolution of 15 cm. Details in this image (see photo) are breathtaking. Thanks to these two newly produced images, I will finally be able to complete one of the main objectives of my Thesis. … 3 months left, it was time! 🙂

Please, save BELSPO!

Belspo logoAs you probably heard we have recently changed Government in Belgium. The new Government has decided to purely and simply kill our Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO) and reduce drastically the budget of what’s left of it, spread around as individual entities . BELSPO was the only organisation, grouping Sciences Institutions and Universities from the three Communities of the Country (Flemish, French, german) in original federated collaborative research project that had enough “financial inertia” to compete with and within International projects in Fundamental Sciences, including Global and Sustainable Environment and Climate, bringing belgian inventivness to the World!… It was also running the science at our Belgian Antarctic Base princess Elisabeth and our research ship, the Belgica,  in the North Sea! (texte from J.L. Tison, ULB)

Our motto in Belgium is « Unity makes strengh ». All together, we can change things. So, please sign and SUPPORT BELGIAN SCIENCE and ask for keeping BELSPO alive! It only takes two minutes.

Click here to sign the petition

Recent eruptive activity at Nyamulagira: Now, there is a lava lake!

As previously reported, intermittent lava fountains appeared on top of Nyamulagira volcano since April 2014. These lava fountains, first erroneously interpreted as a lava lake by NASA in June 2014 [1], were observed for the first time in the field in July 2014 by a team of Congolese, Belgian, Luxembourgish and Italian scientists [2].

Recent lava fountains in the pit crater of Nyamulagira volcano - Photo (c) B. Smets, July 2014Around mid-September, this activity stopped, but reappeared in early November as a small bubbling lava lake, at the same location as the lava fountains observed in July (see the previous news article for location details). It is uncertain if this activity will persist or not. If the current activity is similar to what occurred between 1913 and 1938 at that volcano, we will probably have intermittent activity that may progressively give birth to a long-lived active lava lake, as it is the case at the neighbouring Nyiragongo volcano.

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

Benny is in the newspaper, today!

[EN] Today, 23rd July 2014, a whole page of the newspaper « La Meuse » has been dedicated to my recent field mission on Nyamulagira during which we observed new eruptive activity in the central caldera of the volcano. Click on the image below to see the full article (in French).

[FR] Aujourd’hui, le 23 juillet 2014, une page entière du journal « La Meuse » a été dédié à ma récente mission de terrain sur le Nyamulagira, durant laquelle nous avons observé une nouvelle activité éruptive dans la caldera centrale du volcan. Cliquez sur l’image ci-dessous pour voir l’article complet.


FNR Awards 2013

In October 2013, Benoît Smets, Nicolas d’Oreye, François Kervyn and Adrien Oth have received the FNR Award for the Oustanding Promotion of Science to the Public, thanks to the documentary « Nyiragongo, expédition sur un lac de lave » realized by B. Luypaert for the Belgian Public television, and for the public conferences organized by the scientists in both Belgium and Luxembourg.

FNR AWARDS CEREMONY 2013 From left to right: Adrien Oth, Benoît Smets, Nicolas d'Oreye.

From left to right: Adrien Oth, Benoît Smets, Nicolas d’Oreye.

More information about the FNR Awards here.