Visiting Deadly Lake Nyos in Cameroon
Visiting the Lake of Death Nyos in Cameroon is difficult to attract tourists because of the large amount of carbon dioxide here. The precursor of this lake is a crater located deep in the ground, so its danger level is very great.
Can Tourists Visit Lake Nyos?
Can tourists visit Lake Nyos? Yes, it is possible. However, it is also necessary to limit visiting. It is a crater lake in the Northwest Region of Cameroon, located 315 kilometers north of the capital, Yaounde. It is deep and covered by rocky cliffs. The water of Lake Nyos is impounded by a volcanic dam. The area around Lake Nyos receives 2.5 meters of rain annually.
The lake is famous for its deadly gas cloud that can put out a fire. The cloud is composed of carbon dioxide, a gas heavier than air. This means that if the lake is overcharged with carbon dioxide, it will displace oxygen in the air. The suffocating gas is toxic to people and animals. It’s still not clear what caused this disaster, but scientists believe that carbon dioxide is a primary factor in the deadly eruption.
The first time Lake Nyos was contaminated, scientists converged. They assumed a long-dormant volcano had erupted, but the scientists found a monstrous geologic disaster. Since then, scientists have returned to the area in hopes of preventing a repeat disaster. These efforts have yielded promising results. In the meantime, low-tech methods may still be the best way to keep the lake safe.
The lake has been a source of myth for the local people for centuries. Many legends attribute death to the lake. The lake is the source of life and death, so the lake has a special place in Cameroonian culture. As a result, certain ethnic groups have decreed that houses built near lakes be elevated. These groups are known as Bafmen. If you are wondering, Can tourists visit lake Nyos? and why not?
The lake is 80 percent degassed, which makes it much safer for visitors than it was in 1986. Still, the lake is very dangerous, and a large enough input of energy could cause a re-eruption. Scientists have installed degassing tubes at the lake’s base, but the lake is still dangerous. Therefore, it is important to visit Nyos only if you have a deep understanding of the risks it poses.
Why should you limit visiting deadly Lake Nyos?
Visiting the Deadly Lake Nyos in Cameroon, a maar in Africa is risky. In 1986, the lake erupted, emitting a cloud of toxic carbon dioxide that killed more than 1,700 people and 3,500 animals. In the aftermath, the local community built a tube to release the toxic gas, but it remains dangerous due to its weak natural walls and seismic activity.
When the deadly cloud reached the Lower Nyos village, people tried to escape. They were later found dead on the paths leading out of town. There were only two survivors, a woman, and a child. The lake became red and its vegetation subsequently died. At the time of the explosion, the population was estimated to be between 3,000 and five hundred people.
The second event that caused the deadly mudslides was the same as the first: the lake was releasing 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 into the air. Scientists determined that the lake was highly supersaturated with CO2, and the eruption released around 2% of its CO2 content. The lake continues to leak gas from vents on its bottom.
The resulting cloud spread to two nearby villages, Cha Subum and Fang, where it killed 500 more people. Despite the deadly cloud, the survivors managed to seek higher ground away from the lake. Survivors recount seeing their families dead on the ground while a cloud of toxic gas rolled out of the lake. Some of the people even suffered from unconsciousness.
Because it is dubbed ‘The World’s Most Murderous Place Without Answer – LAKE NYOS‘, tourists come here to visit very few and almost none. Most of the people who come here are scientists or the government of this country who come to study it.
Special Point of Lake Nyos
In addition to its distinctive features, this place is rife with unpredictable dangers. One of the reasons why this place is limited to visitors is:
It is one of only three lakes in the world to be saturated with carbon dioxide
A natural dam of volcanic rock holds the water of Deadly Lake Nyos in place. The lake’s surface is 45 meters wide and 40 meters high. Lake Nyos is one of only three lakes in the world to be saturated with carbon dioxide, the other two being Lake Kivu and Monoun in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The lakes are so dense that no living organism can breathe the air above them without passing out. If this were to happen to a large-scale human population, a disaster like the one in 1986 or 1984 could be avoided. For this reason it was named Top 8 Dangerous Places Of The World.
The lake’s instability makes degassing the lake a challenge. But the researchers plan to declassify the lake’s middle layer first. This will increase the density difference between the bottom and middle layers and make the lakes overturn less likely. Next, they plan to extract the CO2-rich water from deeper layers in two separate stages over the next year. This process, however, may be dangerous to lake wildlife. The carbon dioxide gas could suffocate crocodiles and hippopotamuses in the shallow layers. Observations are underway to determine whether this process is safe or not for wildlife.
While both lakes are highly unusual, they’re not the only ones. Another one is Lake Kivu in Central Africa. It’s a relatively larger lake than Lake Nyos, but its soil is rich in organic matter. It is suspected that some of the methane is produced by microorganisms digesting organic matter, and some geologists think it’s the volcanic-produced methane seeping into the lake from below. Both methane and CO2 are much less soluble than each other and can bubble out.
The calm lake of Nyos
One of the strange things about this area of Cameroon is its unnatural stillness. The lake is a crater, which means that it is typically full of carbon dioxide, which dissipates over time as the lake turns over. This naturally occurring carbon dioxide builds up at the bottom of the lake, creating a highly pressurized layer that rises like a great fountain.
A strange occurrence occurred two years before the disastrous events of Nyos. Nearby Lake Monoun, a bone-shaped crater, is an eerie, but populated area. A road borders the lake, and nearby farms are dotted with livestock. On one particular day, Abdo Nkanjouone was cycling north when he spotted the bodies of a priest and a man on his motorcycle.
In the early days, a man visited the area in search of water. He was intrigued by the fact that animals were not in the lake, and wondered whether they were victims of a lightning strike. On one of his explorations, he came across a cluster of huts. Inside, he found dead bodies all over the place. He hoped to wake the dead, but he found no living souls.
Visitors should also be aware that carbon dioxide is present in the lake’s waters. The lake is 682 feet deep and rests on porous volcanic rubble from a previous eruption. As this carbon dioxide dissolves into the lake water, it explodes, releasing a large amount of gas. It is also a source of sodium-bicarbonate springs, and scientists have taken measures to release this gas from the lake.
It is in a volcanic caldera
Scientists first landed on the shores of Deadly Lake Nyos in Uganda a few days after the deadly volcano erupted, assuming it was simply a long-dormant volcano erupting. They quickly realized the geological disaster was a much bigger problem than they originally thought. Dedicated scientists have since returned to the area several times to stop the catastrophe. While high-tech solutions may not be effective in this area, low-tech methods could help. One scientist, Gregory Tanyileke, has been coordinating a team of experts from all over the world to try to save the lake.
Carbon dioxide levels in the water are dangerously high at the bottom of the lake, with a depth of 682 feet. Water contains nearly one liter of carbon dioxide per liter at atmospheric pressure. The water at the bottom of the lake holds as much as 20 times that amount. Also, there is virtually no light to penetrate the water below 700 feet. As a result, the lake becomes a potentially lethal place to swim in.
The volcanic activity at a depth causes a crater to form. A similar blast erupted in Lake Monoun 18,000 years ago. A similar blast formed the crater at Nyos a few hundred years later. As water fills these craters, they become lakes. The lake is surrounded by a volcanic dam. Despite its proximity to an active volcano, many people visit Lake Nyos to escape the deadly temperatures.
Scientists have also begun returning to Cameroon to study the lake. The lake’s depths were found to contain pent-up carbon dioxide. This gas could reach a saturation point in as little as a decade, and the lake could explode at any time. However, scientists have no idea when the lake might explode. But the volcano is still a threat to human life.
The degassing tube is in place to prevent the disaster from recurring
Scientists have developed a degassing tube to prevent another eruption in the Deadly Lake Nyos crater. The lake’s natural wall has been weakened by a geological tremor, which could cause the dike to give way, allowing the carbon dioxide to escape. The scientists have installed this tube in the lake, and hope that it will prevent the disaster from happening again.
In 2001, French scientists implemented a degassing program that involved installing a pipe to the bottom of the lake. The pipe allows the gas to escape at a regular rate. A second pipe was established in 2011 and a solar-powered alarm system monitors carbon dioxide levels. While this method is still under investigation, it is a promising start for the victims of the Deadly Lake Nyos.
The same amount of carbon dioxide is produced by the Horseshoe Lake in California. This means that people living in the Horseshoe Valley are also at risk. While the lake does not produce the same levels of carbon dioxide as Horseshoe Lake, the people in that area are. Luckily, the degassing tube has been installed, and the lake should be back to normal soon.
Researchers have determined that the CO2 in the water at the bottom of Deadly Lake Nyos was trapped for many years. It was held down by 682 feet of water. A rockslide may have triggered the eruption. The falling rocks may have pushed up a portion of the gas, but most of it bubbled back up.
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