Nyiragongo eruption: no imminent risk of gas outburst on Lake Kivu- findings

According to the findings by Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) there is no imminent risk of gas outburst in Lake Kivu.

Nyiragongo volcano, which is located in eastern DR Congo near Rwanda’s Rubavu district , erupted on May 22, pushing thousands to flee the city of Goma.

There have been concerns of limnic eruption or explosion of gas on Lake Kivu following Nyiragongo eruption.

REMA, through its Lake Kivu monitoring team, has carried out Physico-chemical measurement of water.

The measurements include temperature, conductivity, oxygen, chlorophyll, and pH.

The results confirm that the Lake is stable, and no change was encountered during the measurement period from 22 to 27 May 2021.

“The team is confident with the results after different measurements and evaluation carried out on the Lake to assess the probable impact of the eruption on Lake Kivu. The lake continues to be stable as it has always been.” Reads a press release by REMA.

The Air Quality is also stable

According to REMA from 27th to 29th May 2021, another team from REMA was in Rubavu District to monitor the Air Quality pollutants associated with Nyiragongo eruption.

RAMPS and ATMOTRACK monitors were used in the monitoring exercise which was running day and night using solar panels as source of energy.

The pollutants of target were SO2, CO2, CO, O3, NO2, PM2.5, PM10, PM1, NH3 and Noise with all Meteorological Parameters including Temperature, Relative Humidity, Pressure, Wind Speed and Wind Direction.

Preliminary findings indicate that all target parameters for Air Quality are falling in acceptable range, and the Real-Time Air Quality data are accessible on REMA AQI Platform (http://aq.rema.gov.rw) and on Phone on “Rwanda AQI” App for Android users.

REMA's Lake Kivu monitoring team continues to work closely with Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB) and international scientists to monitor if there would be any valuable risk that may arise from the seismic activity on the Lake ecosystem.

“In the meantime, the general public and communities around the Lake Kivu are recommended to follow and consider timely and effective official information on the situation.”

Lake Kivu is one of the East African great lakes, located at the border between the Republic of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The oxic surface waters, called “biozone” by the geochemists or “mixolimnion” by the limnologists, are separated from the anoxic deep waters by a chemocline.

The deep waters of the lake contain high amount of dissolved methane (~55-60 km3) and carbon dioxide (~300 km3), with a reported high risk for local populations in case of release. However, the dissolved methane is a valuable natural resource that is extracted and exploited as a renewable energy for Electricity production in Rwanda.