Thursday 9 February 2012

Explosions on Mount Cameroon.

An explosion on Mount Cameroon is said to have injured two tourist guides working on the mountain on Friday 3 February 2012. Local people also reported seeing bursts of flame and clouds of ash. Residents close to the mountain have reportedly been voluntarily moving away from the volcano, which has a history of violent eruptions.

Lava flow on Mount Cameroon in 1999. Société Volcanologique Européene.

Mount Cameroon is a 4095 m high stratovolcano (cone shaped volcano made up of successive layers of ash and lava) on the coast of Cameroon, about 80 km northwest of the capital, Douala. The volcano sits slightly to the north of the Central African Shear Zone, which cuts though the country from southwest to northeast. The Central African Shear Zone is an extensional structure that initially opened about 640 million years ago; a continuation of the zone is found in South America, where it is called the Pernambuco Fault. It had the potential to develop into a full ocean with a spreading zone at a mid-ocean ridge, similar to the modern Atlatic, but did not develop at that time. It became active again up during the break-up of Gondwanaland (an ancient super-continent of which Africa formed a part) in the Mesozoic, and has been a source of volcanic activity ever since. It could potentially still open into a full ocean as Africa breaks apart in the east along the Great Rift Valley.

Mount Cameroon last erupted in 2000, when lava flows reached to within 5 km of the town of Buea. Plans to evacuate the town were dropped at the last moment when the lava flow stopped abruptly. A cloud of gas and ash was seen to reach 3300 m above the summit of the volcano. The following year the monsoon rains dislodged ash deposits left by the eruption, causing a landslide that struck the coastal city of Limbe, killing 23 people and making about a thousand more homeless.