Nyiragongo Volcano

The Nyiragongo Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It is noted for long active lava lakes which appear in the summit crater. Nyiragongo is one of eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains.

Situated in Goma town in the Virunga National Park, Mount Nyiragongo is an active stratovolcano with an elevation of 3,470 meters (11,380 ft) in the associated with the Albertine Rift Nyiragongo. The volcano is active in that the last eruption happened 14 years ago but signs of another eruption are showing meaning that another eruption is expected any time.

Quick Facts

Stratovolcano 3470 m / 11,384 ft
DRCongo, -1.52°S / 29.25°E
Typical eruption style: Large effusive eruptions; persistant lava lake in the summit crater.
Nyiragongo volcano eruptions: 1884, 1894, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1905, 1906, 1908(?), 1911, 1918, 1920-21, 1927-77, 1977, 1982, 1994-96, 2002 (17 Jan.), 2002-ongoing (lava lake)
Location: Near the town of Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Nyiragongo Mountain is one of the world’s most beautiful volcanoes. It is a large stratovolcano near Lake Kivu located in the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo with Rwanda. It lies within the Virunga National Park. It has a 1.2 km diameter summit caldera containing the world’s most active and largest lava lake.

Nyiragongo is notorious for its lava lake and producing lateral eruptions with extremely fluid, fast-moving lava flows that repeatedly devastated areas around the volcano. One of the last eruptions caused the Goma desaster on January 2002, when a lava flow destroyed much of the city’s commercial center and prompted 200,000 people to flee.

Though Nyiragongo is less studied by gelogists, the large lava lake contained in its deep summit crater, now active again, became famous in the 1960’s and 70’s when volcanologists such as the Kraffts and Tazieff studied it. It had been active for half a century before it drained in one of the volcano’s recent most catastrophic eruptions in 1977: through openings in its outer flanks in 1977, a huge lava flow poured out and killed hundreds of people. A similar event happened again in January 2002, when lava flows from flank vents drained the lake and cut through Goma, reaching Lake Kivu.

Two older volcanoes, Baruta and Shaheru, are partially overlapped by Nyiragongo on the north and south and look like lateral cones. About 100 parasitic cones are located primarily along radial fissures south of Shaheru, east of the summit, and along a NE-SW zone extending as far as Lake Kivu. Many cones are buried by voluminous lava flows that extend long distances down the flanks of the volcano.

Guide to Hiking the Nyiragongo Volcano

Planning to hike the Nyiragongo Mountains in Congo? Here are practical tips and information to help you get started.