Geography In action

Thursday, January 17th of the year 2002, the Democratic Republic of Congo really didn’t have a good start to the new year. The Nyiragongo Volcano Disaster occurred. The Nyiragongo Volcano is a 3,470 m shield volcano situated on the east African rift valley. This horrible eruption was triggered by the movement of the tectonic plates spreading in the Kivu rift, creating this fracture in the lithosphere allowing lava to flow throughout. It also had been having minor eruptions months in advance which had increased the fracturing activity on the upper southern slopes. The eruption lasted for approximately a day and caused and consisted of three gigantic lava flows. 

     The disaster destroyed 15% of the city of Goma, including their international airport and their business centre. It also destroyed 14 other villages within 30 miles south of Africa. 40 000 thousand citizens were forced to evacuate and left tens of thousands homeless. An estimate of around 150 people were killed in this tragedy and left everyone still in fear for another eruption. 3/11 of health centres and 80/100 of the pharmacies were completely destroyed and stuck under  the rubble due to the eruption. 

The geographical spheres that were involved were essentially the lithosphere and the hydrosphere. The lithosphere to the biggest extent because of its interactions with the earths separation in its tectonic plates. But, also with the hydrosphere because, when the magma seeps down into the water it heats up the water excessively; which is also very problematic because of the water heating up so fast and so hot, it could lead to another eruption. The atmosphere also played a role in this disaster due to the ashy fumes that were dispersed and interacted with the air.

The response to this situation was relatively quick but there was several complications. The United Nations acted immediately on the disaster and quickly started providing family kits for the citizens. There was never any immediate danger of starvation. But the thing they needed the most was cash which caused the problem. The problem with giving out money was that people were going to start spending it on their own necessities and not on exactly what would improve the overall situation. So instead they helped disperse the families to more distant relatives who weren’t effected and started installing medical places around more commonly.

If I could have been there or if I could have helped, I would’ve built a bunch of living facilities and started collecting funds to help rebuild the city. But because the volcano is still active, I would definitely build further away from the mountain itself so if it were to erupt, it wouldn’t have that bad of an effect again.