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Mike Long
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(585) 475-5158
Carlson 76-3131

Hydrostatic Modeling of Deadly Gas Emissions from African Lakes

FacultyMike Long

Frank Sciremammano

Tony Vodacek

Agents on Computer Resource Landscape

In 1986 Lake Nyos in the Northwest Province of Cameroon released a large cloud of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere killing 1,700 people and 3,500 livestock in nearby villages.  In addition there have been several smaller disasters from similar lakes in Africa. These lakes are some of the deepest in the world.

Lake Kivu ranks fifteenth with a maximum depth of 480 meters.  In the rift valley bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, it is one of the African Great Lakes with a maximum length of 89 km and a maximum width of 48 km.   With an estimated dissolved carbon dioxide volume of 256 cubic kilometers and 65 cubic kilometers of methane, it too has the potential of exploding and killing most of the neighboring 2 million inhabitants. It is at these depths, under extreme pressure that the gasses lie dissolved and dormant.  However, with neighboring active volcanoes and the potential of landslides caused be runoff and extensive deforestation, a potential disaster could happen at any time with little or no warning.  

Our unique effort in hydrostatic modeling is directed towards identifying the magnitude of the natural perturbation that could trigger the catastrophic release of a deadly volume of gas.  Once quantification of the energy required to cause such a release of gas is known, then the commitment event, e.g. earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, can be identified followed by disaster monitoring and prediction.