The Sciences

Possible eruption from the Oku Volcanic Field in Cameroon

Rocky Planet iconRocky PlanetBy Erik KlemettiNov 6, 2010 5:59 AM


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There are a couple brief articles that an eruption has occurred near the border region of Cameroon and Nigeria - in the state of Benue, which is midway along of the eastern border of the two countries. The report claims that "vibrations on the earth overwhelmed the area" and that then there was a "a sudden eruption from six points on the mountainous terrain", which then "lava from the mountain cover[ed] wells, streams, trees and houses in the area". People in the vicinity had to flee, but one person died in the "eruption" and many buildings were damaged. Also, water supplies were contaminated by the lava - although the report says that it was "polluted by the heavy magma," which feels like a missed translation. Overall, this sounds like a basaltic lava flow or flows that came from previously unidentified vents - and the fact it was described as "six points" makes me think it could be a fissue eruption.

Figuring out exactly was is erupting is a little perplexing. First, there aren't any known active volcanoes in Nigeria near the state of Benue. Beyond the idea that the report if false or the location is wrong, we can look at a map of the known active volcanoes in neighboring Cameroon. The best suspect is the Oku Volcanic Field, which is a field of cinder cones and maars near the border with Nigeria, but in Cameroon. The field is part of a large Mt. Oku, which is a stratovolcano that is now cut by a caldera. There are no historical eruptions of the field, but it does host volcanic lakes like Lake Nyos and Monoun, both of which had catastrophic carbon dioxide releases in 1986 and 1984, respectively. These releases may have been a product of phreatic explosions that overturned the lake waters, but this has never been confirmed. If this eruption is, in fact, from the Oku Volcanic Field, it will be the first subaereal eruption there on record.

UPDATE: Some more strange news reports out of the region. One claims that the federal government is Nigeria is telling people that Lake Nyos will not erupt soon and create a massive flood. Another post says that the Nigerian government is making preparations for an collapse at Lake Nyos, but it mentions nothing about an eruption. However, there is no new information on any true eruption in the area.

Top left: Lake Nyos in the Oku Volcanic Field in Cameroon.

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