EGU22-2704, updated on 27 Mar 2022
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Structural failure and shallow dike intrusion at Nyiragongo volcano (D.R Congo)

Delphine Smittarello1, Julien Barrière1, Nicolas d'Oreye1,2, Benoit Smets3, Adrien Oth1, Caroline Michellier3, Tara Shreve4, Raphael Grandin5, Valérie Cayol6, Christelle Wauthier7, Dominique Derauw8, Halldor Geirsson9, Nicolas Theys10, Hugues Brenot10, Jean-Luc Froger12, Adalbert Muhindo11, and François Kervyn3
Delphine Smittarello et al.
  • 1European Center for Geodynamics and Seismology, Walferdange, Luxembourg (
  • 2National Museum of Natural History, Luxembourg
  • 3Royal Museum for Central Africa, Department of Earth Sciences, Belgium
  • 4Earth and Planets Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington, DC. U.S.A
  • 5Université de Paris, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France
  • 6Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans, Université Clermont-Auvergne, CNRS, IRD, OPGC, Clermont Ferrand, France
  • 7Department of Geosciences,Pennsylvania State University, U.S.A.
  • 8Universidad Nacional de Rio Negro, Argentina
  • 9Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland, Iceland
  • 10Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Belgium
  • 11Goma Volcano Observatory, D.R. Congo
  • 12Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon – Terre, Planète Environnement, UMR 5276, Université de Lyon, Université Jean Monnet - Saint-Etienne

After January 1977 and January 2002, the third historically known flank eruption of Nyiragongo volcano and the first ever to be recorded by dense measurements both on the ground and from space started on the 22nd of May 2021, although no alarming precursory unrest had been reported. Nyiragongo lava flows threatened about 1 million of inhabitants living in the cities of Goma (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Giseny (Rwanda).

In the following days, seismic and geodetic data as well as fracture mapping revealed the gradual southward propagation of a shallow dike from the Nyiragongo edifice underlying below Goma airport on May 23-24, then Goma and Gisenyi city centers on May 25-26 and finally below the northern part of Lake Kivu on May 27. Southward migration of the associated seismic swarm slowed down between May 27 and June 02. Micro seismicity became more diffuse, progressively activating transverse tectonic structures previously identified in the whole Lake Kivu basin.

Here we exploit ground based and remote sensing data as well as inversion and physics-based models to fully characterize the dike size, the dynamics of dike propagation and its arrest against a structural lineament known as the Nyabihu Fault. This work highlights the shallow origin of the dike, the segmented dike propagation controlled by the interaction with pre-existing fracture networks and the incremental crater collapse associated with drainage which led to the disappearance of the world’s largest long-living lava lake on top of Nyiragongo.

How to cite: Smittarello, D., Barrière, J., d'Oreye, N., Smets, B., Oth, A., Michellier, C., Shreve, T., Grandin, R., Cayol, V., Wauthier, C., Derauw, D., Geirsson, H., Theys, N., Brenot, H., Froger, J.-L., Muhindo, A., and Kervyn, F.: Structural failure and shallow dike intrusion at Nyiragongo volcano (D.R Congo), EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-2704,, 2022.