Kivu lakeMethane
Gas Extraction
Putting methane
to work
Natural hazards


Lake Kivu, between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo is unique in the world : its deep waters contain an enormous quantity of dissolved gas (3/4 carbon dioxide, ¼ methane).

When static, this highly stratified lake, is stable and benign. A powerful disturbance caused by the volcanic activity of Nyiragongo, situated on the north shore of the lake, could cause an upsurge of deep water charged with dissolved gas.

These waters would release, either through localised and limited emanations or through a cataclysmic explosion involving a large part of the lake, a large quantity of suffocating gas which would threaten the safety of neighbouring populations.

Remember that Lake Nyos, in Cameroon, was the site of a gas explosion in 1986 which caused the death by suffocation of 1800 people in an area of 30 km around the lake. Lake Kivu contains 1000 times more gas than Lake Nyos and there are millions of people living under threat.

We decided to conduct a multidisciplinary study of the physico-chemical properties of Lake Kivu with the aim of evaluating the risk of gas explosion in various scenarios involving the activity of Nyiragongo (eruption or sub-lacustrine magmatic intrusion, effusion of lava during a fissural eruption, as occurred in January 2002).

Lahmeyer & OSAE. Bathymetric Survey of Lake Kivu