The bizarre explosion of Lake Nyos

The bizarre explosion of Lake Nyos 1

Lake Lynos is a location in northwest Cameroon that is formed inside a’maar’ (flooded volcanic crater). It is a very deep lake that reaches a depth of 208 metres, and it is situated at a medium altitude on the slope of Mount Oku, an inactive volcano.

Lake Nyos
Crater lake (Lake Nyos) located in the Menchum department in the central part of the Northwest region of Cameroon. © Wikimedia Commons

The waters are confined in its interior by a natural volcanic rock dam; an interesting fact is that they are rich in dioxide and carbon monoxide due to the volcanic rocks beneath them; this is the most essential information for understanding the explosion that occurred.

Limnic eruption of Lake Nyos

On August 21, 1986, a massive calamity known as a limnic eruption occurred, which consisted a massive explosion of water that caused the water to be hurled 100 metres high, resulting in a form of destructive tsunami. The discharge of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide gases caused this explosion.

As we all know, these gases are heavier than the air we breathe, therefore they reached all regions near Nyos, removing practically all of the oxygen and killing over 2,000 people every hour! In addition, about 3,000 animals were killed.

Lake Nyos disaster
More than 3,000 animals were killed in the explosion. © BBC

The authorities in charge of Lake Nyos have put CO2 dispersers on the water’s surface as a result of this horrific and unexpected natural calamity, preventing more lives from being lost due to the gas.

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