Mount Nyiragongo - LIDC Volcanic Eruption Case Study


Location & Key Facts


  • Part of the Great African Rift Valley
  • Located in Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 20km North of Goma and Lake Kivu
  • West of the border to Rwanda

Key Facts

  • 17 January 2002
  • Sheild volcano
  • Erupted 34 times since 1882
  • 2km wide crater
  • One of the most active but least studied
  • 3 months of earthquakes and gas eruptioms resilted in a 13km fissure opening
  • Lava was up to 1000m wide and 2m deep
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Social & Economic Impacts


  • Lava flowed through Goma, can reach up to 40km/h
  • 14 nearby villages destroyed
  • 30% of infrastructure in Goma destroyed, including international airport (making aid difficult to recieve) and business centre
  • 2/4 hospitals destroyed
  • 147 died (from direct lava flow, gas/ash inhalation, explosion of petrol station - 100 looters - and spread of cholera in refugee camps)
  • 400,000 refugees fled to Rwanda, although many were forced back due to abuse from locals and gangs
  • Many forced to rebuild basic housing on top of solid lava


  • 80% of commercial infrastructures destroyed
  • North end of Goma International Airport disrupted - 2/3 usable
  • 350,000 dependant on aid after 1 month
  • Tourist trade collapsed in the following 3 years
  • Unemployment at 95% compared to 80% prior
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Environmental Impacts & Responses


  • Lake Kivu polluted by lava
  • Seismic activity disturbed wildlife


  • USAID provided $25,000 to the US Embassy in Kinshasa and US Embassy in Rwanda
  • USAID worked with NGOs to provide $5 million assisstance
  • Oxfam provided 800,000 litres of water per day 
  • ECHO provided $5 million for water, medication and food aid
  • Urban Planning and Disaster Mitigation Officer deployed in Goma
  • Volcanologists monitor the area
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