Nature Notes
Exploding Lakes
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What is an exploding lake?

Lake Nyos is a crater lake in Cameroon in west central Africa. On 21 August, 1986 a huge bubble of carbon dioxide gas rose out of the lake and burst. Winds swept the gas into nearby villages causing heavy loss of life. 1,700 people and 3,520 livestock were suffocated by the gas.
Lake Nyos is one of three lakes in the world known to be saturated with carbon dioxide, the other two being Lake Monoun, also in Cameroon and Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In certain conditions, carbon dioxide can rise out of the lakes in a great bubble and explode at the surface.

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Scientists are keeping a close watch on Lake Kivu particularly because it contains around 1000 times more gas than the other two lakes combined, and if it explodes the result could be catastrophic because there are about two million people living around the periphery of the lake.
A magma chamber beneath the region is the source of the carbon dioxide which seeps up through the lake bed.



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