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IN History & Culture ON
Lake Nyos lies in northwestern Cameroon near the border of Nigeria. On August 21, 1986, a massive cloud of Carbon dioxide bubbled up from the lake and went into the valley below. This unnatural event claimed the lives of about 1,746 villagers and about 3,000 animals.
But, it was a nightmarish reality for those affected. A hydrovolcanic eruption about 400 years earlier had created a crater in the lake wherein carbon dioxide got deposited over the years.
Gas seeped into the groundwater and led to "CO2-charged soda springs", said Dr. George Kling, a biologist at the University of Michigan.
The cap in this case was the weight of the water. As long as it was there, the gas stays dissolved or submerged.
When he visited the place after the disaster. Kling said that he found evidence of "very large and recent landslide."
Moreover, only two of such disasters have occurred in the course of recorded history until now.
Although "unlikely," Dr. Greg Tanyileke of the Cameroonian Institute for Geological and Mining Research and the chief government scientist working on the lake says Lake Nyos could suffer another deadly eruption.
The lake is so big that methods used to degas Cameroon's lake is simply not a solution to it. Nature has its own way of doing things, and whether it gives birth or dooms us is out of our control.