Response of Lake Kivu stratification to lava inflow and climate warming

Lorke, Andreas, Klaus Tietze, Michel Halbwachs, Alfred W├╝est

Limnol. Oceanogr., 49(3), 2004, 778-783 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2004.49.3.0778

ABSTRACT: During the eruption of Nyiragongo Volcano in January 2002 about 106 m3 of lava entered Lake Kivu. The high concentrations of CO2 and CH4 dissolved in the deep waters of Lake Kivu raised serious concerns about a potential gas outburst with catastrophic consequences for the population in the Kivu-Tanganyika region. Therefore, 3 weeks after the volcanic eruption, we performed an ad hoc lake survey of the stability of the water column stratification. Vertical profiles of temperature and turbidity revealed signatures of the lava, which had penetrated to 100 m depth; however, there was no substantial warming or destratification of the gas-containing deep layers below. The deep double-diffusive structures also remained unaltered. Based on these observations, we conclude that a thermally driven gas outburst in Lake Kivu is not to be expected from future eruptions of comparable dimensions. In addition, the recent measurements allowed for an update and gave new insight into the stratification and double-diffusive mixing phenomena in Lake Kivu. A comparison with former measurements revealed a warming of the upper part of the lake of up to 0.5°C within the last 30 yr, which could be attributed to climate variability.

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