Reassessing the volcanic hazard of unusual lavas in the East African rift.

Theme: Natural & Biological Hazards

Primary Supervisor:

Adrian Jones

Earth Sciences, UCL

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Secondary Supervisor:

Chris Kilburn

Earth Sciences, UCL

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Project Description:

Volcanism in the western arm of the East African Rift (EAR) poses a continued risk to local populations, including potentially the fastest flowing lavas known, at Nyiragongo (3470 m). In the city of Goma, scores of people died in 1977, and a further 147 people died largely from CO2 asphyxiation during another effusive eruption in 2002.

Volcanoes in the Virunga national park contain rare minerals like kalsilite, and they extend into Uganda, where further potassic signatures and historic carbonatite eruptions are also a striking feature.

The aim of the project is (1) to analyse and compile recent data from historic eruptions and petrological collections to construct a flux model for rift volcanism; (2) to undertake laboratory experiments to measure the viscosity of recent lavas and (3) reassess (a) the regional and (b) specific hazard prediction model for Goma (Wafula et 2002) using input from 1 and 2.

Policy Impact of Research:

The study will examine rare lava compositions, andestimate the magma flux of the EAR.

Experiments combined with multidisciplinary field observations will be used to reassess the hazard potential of future volcanic activity effecting the city of Goma, and the surrounding region.

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