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Exploding Lake


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In 1986, the world woke up to the disaster of a limnic eruption in Cameroon: carbon dioxide accumulated deep inside Lake Nyos, killed 1,746 people and 3,500 livestock when the gas was released in a cloud that reached one hundred meter high and spread as far as 25 kilometers from the shore of the lake, and moving at a speed of one hundred kilometers an hour down the valley.


Lake Kivu contains a thousand times more gas than Lake Nyos, while over four million people live near the shores of Lake Kivu.  A massive earthquake or a volcano eruption could potentially initiate a limnic eruption in Lake Kivu. The concentration of gas is particularly high in Kabuno’s bay near the town of Sake. Some researchers estimate that the last 6,000 years have seen at least five limnic eruptions in Lake Kivu.  If the methane gas continues to accumulate at the current pace, experts are worried that it will reach a critical level by the end of the century. 

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