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SCIENTIFIC MATERIAL WAS SENT TO THE VOLCANOLOGIC OBSERVATORY OF GOMA (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO)

  • Introduction
  • The Observatory of Goma studies the behavior of the volcanoes of the area of the North Kivu province. Goma is the capital of this province, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is situated in one of the most beautiful and spectacular regions of Africa, in the centre of the Albertine or Western Rift Valley, a graven of extraordinary beauty, surrounded by natural features like the Virunga volcanoes and Lake Kivu which make this area a possible base for an exceptional ecological tourism. “Possible,” due to the great political problems that the Democratic Republic of Congo is going through: the country is in ruin, despite possessing a mineral wealth which makes it one of the richest regions in the world.

    There are three rebel groups spread out in the forest close to the city. Visiting the Gorillas in the mountains today means being accompanied by the rebels of General Nkunda that are currently occupying the area. There are also approximately 6000 Rwandese rebels, most of whom were involved in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and, for obvious reasons, the majority of them are afraid of returning  to their country. The Mai-Mai groups also contribute to a number of problems in the area. Due to this situation, thousands of refugees live close to the city of Goma. The MONUC organization is part of the ONU and has an important army in the area to try to impose order.

    North of the city there are two active volcanoes, the only two active ones in the Virunga chain. Nyiragongo is one of them, and it is one of the most dangerous on the planet, with a crater containing the biggest lava lake in the world.
    South of the city is the beautiful Lake Kivu, the highest lake of the Rift Valley, on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its main characteristic is the concentration of 200km3 of CO2 and methane gases in its lower water levels. Combined with the aggressiveness of the Nyiragongo, they make up for one of the most explosive cocktails on earth!
    Approximately 2 million people live in that area…

    On the 17th of January 2002, the eruption of Nyiragongo destroyed part of the City of Goma. The International community and the ONU intervened and equipped the Observatory of Goma after the disaster. The problem is that today, a few years after the centre partially regained its functions, it has run out of funds; the personnel is poorly paid and the equipment is either broken or already obsolete. It is therefore necessary to help them, as best we can, by buying scientific material and equipment, in order for the Observatory to function in proper conditions, allowing it to work for the security of the population.
    Basic material like computers, gas masks and more has been bought with the help of the nonprofit organization ECOLOGIA E INVESTIGACION and its president Ben Beeckmans, but there is the necessity for more:


    - The necessity of geochemical analysis of gas and water. A new gas meter is necessary.

    -In order to measure the volume of SO2 of the volcanic cloud differential and mobile spectrometers are necessary.

    - Deformation of the land is studied by measuring the width of the fissures, with extensometers.

    -Temperature variations are measured with thermic sensors.

    These are only a few examples of items the Observatory needs urgently.

    We have to add that the permanent volcanic cloud that is coming out of the Nyiragongo, is made of SO2, CO2, C1, F, water, ashes, lava fiber and more particles, all of which are harmful and toxic.

    Each day between 11 000 and 50 000 tons of SO2 are produced from the volcano, 4 to 7 million tons of SO2 per year, twice the entire pollution of France, and 50% of the sulphur produced by all the volcanoes of the world together.

    The vegetation of the area is partially burnt.
    Agriculture production is compromised and decreases due to the acid rain, while the population is increasing!

    The Fluor falls with the rain and more than 60 000 people living in the area only have rain water to drink. Fluorosis is expanding.

    New fissures are present in the area, from where more lava could erupt and once again “flood” Goma. To sum things up: the region in is constant danger.

    Our objective is to help the Observatory, the best we can, both by buying material and with scientific studies that have to be brought to term “on site.”


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