Nyriagongo, Africa Volcano Case Study

Case study of the Nyriagongo Volcano in the Democratic Republlic of Congo for GCSE Geography

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Eruption Date

17 January 2002

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In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa near Lake Kivu and the city of Goma

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Volcano Type

Shield Volcano-

Low rounded peak, wide base and gentle slopes, layers of runny lava with little ash, frequent and non- violent eruptions

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  • It is found at a destructive plate margin
  • 2 parts of the East African Plate were breaking
  • Plates pushed against each other and this caused the volcano to erupt


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Primary Effects

  • The speed of the lava reached 60kph.
  • The lava flowed across the runway at the Goma Airport and through the town, splitting it in half.
  • The lava destroyed many homes as well as roads and water pipes.
  • The lava set off explosions in fuel stores and power plants
  • Killed 45 people.
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Secondary Effects

  • 500,000 people fled from Goma into neighbouring Rwanda
  • Evacuees spent the night sleeping on the streets of Gisenyi.
  • Rwanda could not cope with the influx, therefore there was no shelter, electricity or clean water.
  • Cholera and other similar diseases were a real risk.
  • Looting was a problem in Goma
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Primary Responses

  • Many residents returned to Goma within a week, in hope of receiving aid.
  • Water was supplied in tankers (Bowsers).
  • Aid agencies, including Christian Aid and Oxfam, were involved in the distribution of food, medicine and blankets.
  • Aid centres were set up in order to provide shelter
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Secondary Responses

  • Money was donated by various charity organisations
  • Rebuilding of buildings commenced
  • Nyriagongo was closely monitored in case of other violent eruptions
  • Aid was sent out for education of children
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