Nyiragongo Volcano Erupts

Nyiragongo Volcano Erupts

Ash and steam were pouring from the Nyiragongo Volcano on July 12, 2004, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) onboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image. Situated on the northern shores of Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the volcano has been erupting intermittently for much of 2004. Nyiragongo is one of Africa’s most well-known volcanoes because of recent catastrophic eruptions. In January 2002, lava flowed from the volcano into the city of Goma, displacing thousands. For the current eruption, there have been no reports of damage.

This true-color MODIS image shows the ash and steam cloud over Lake Kivu. The ash plume is blowing approximately 75 kilometers southeast into Rwanda, right, though there is evidence that the wind had recently shifted. A faint plume is still visible extending southwest of the volcano and an arc of ash stretches over Lake Kivu between the two plumes. Red boxes mark where MODIS has detected a thermal anomaly, places where the temperature is much higher than the surrounding region. The boxes typically mark active fires, though in this case, one marker shows the volcano’s active vent. The above image is at MODIS’ maximum resolution of 250 meters per pixel. The image is available in additional resolutions.

For more information about using MODIS to detect volcanic eruptions, read: Sensing Remote Volcanoes

Images & Animations


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  • Visualization Date:

    July 15, 2004
  • Sensor(s):

    Terra - MODIS
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration