A calm but deadly paradise.. an African lake that hides deadly secrets
Concerns about the disaster were renewed after the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano in early 2021, and the lava flowing killed 32 people and destroyed hundreds of homes.
Engineers at a power plant were kilometers away when Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo erupted last May.
The engineers at the floating power station on Lake Kivu – close to the volcano – at that time felt the earthquakes left by the volcano in the waters below them, but their vision of the rising lava was not a cause for concern, but rather the huge concentrations of explosive gases that raised their concerns.
Beautiful and dangerous lake
Lake Kivu is one of the great rift lakes in Africa, located on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but this beautiful lake surrounded by green hills is not as calm as it seems, but the activity of the Nyiragongo volcano around it for thousands of years has caused the accumulation and melting of huge amounts of methane and carbon dioxide in the depths of this lake.
According to for press report Published by Science Alert, Francois Darchambeau – one of the engineers of the company, says:How watts(KivuWatt) responsible for extracting gas from the waters of the lake – “This quantity of gases is capable of being destructive if released.”
eruption of lakes
These gases may be released after a rare type of natural disaster known as a “limnic eruption”. When this rare activity occurs, the dissolved gases erupt from the depths of the water to the surface, creating a gas cloud capable of suffocating and endangering life around the lake. Therefore, scientists call the lakes where this activity occurs as “killer lakes.”
There are only 3 such lakes in the world: Lake Kivu, Lake Nyos and Lake Monnoun in northwest Cameroon. The last two lakes experienced eruptions in the 1980s, and the eruption of Lake Nyos released carbon dioxide, suffocating more than 1,700 people.
However, this latest eruption took place in a rural area, and if the same were repeated in Lake Kivu, the lives of more than two million people would be at risk. The residents of that area live in fear of any imminent danger that may inflict on them from this deadly lake. There are many stories about the disappearance of swimmers in the depths of that lake due to suffocation or being dragged into the depths.
Despite its dangers, Lake Kivu holds promising opportunities within it. The company “Kivu Watt” – owned by the British company “Contour Global” – saw a promising opportunity to benefit from these abundant gases there for power generation, the only project of its kind in the world. It takes a 20-minute boat ride to reach the company’s floating site in the lake.
This facility is located in the part of the lake belonging to the Rwandan waters, and pumps water saturated with carbon dioxide and methane gas from a depth that extends to 350 meters to the surface, where the gas separates from the water due to the change in pressure.
The methane is then sent via a pipeline to another facility on the shore of the lake in Rwanda, where the gas is converted into electricity, while the carbon dioxide is pumped back deep enough into the lake not to upset the lake’s balance. The company hopes to reduce pressure inside the lake by removing methane from it, which could reduce the risk of an eruption.
Fears about this disaster were renewed after the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano in early 2021, and the flowing lava killed 32 people and destroyed hundreds of homes.
A second wave of lava flowed into the depths of the lake, and the company’s engineers also monitored the color of the sky turning red, which raised their concerns. This was followed by the high rates of earthquakes and the frequency of their occurrence, as no one could have predicted what might happen, which prompted the company – which provides 30% of the annual electricity needs consumed in East African countries – to consider the matter of closure.