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Geology in the News

January 18th, 2002

Friday was a very bad day for the residents and refugees of Goma, Republic of Congo. Late Thursday night and through the day on Friday, Nyiragongo Volcano (Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program, Volcano World) roared back to life (Smithsonian/ USGS eruption notice). A fissure eruption on the southern flank of the volcano fed lava flows that rapidly headed downhill straight through the heart of the city of Goma and into its port on Lake Kivu. The region has been ravaged by wars in Rwanda and Eastern Congo over the last decade and the city of Goma was the headquarters of many international relief agencies. While perhaps a politically expedient location for refugee camps, the city is located on the flank of one of Africa's most historically active volcanoes. The basaltic lavas and style of eruption are similar to those in Hawaii or Iceland and are characteristic of volcanoes associated with divergent plate boundaries, such as the East African Rift, of which volcanoes in this region are a part.


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