Experts to meet over L. Kivu

An international group of researchers will meet January 13-15, 2009 at a conference in Gisenyi to grapple with the problem of Lake Kivu. The team of researchers from Rwanda and the US are set to meet in a move to come up with ways of tackling the high levels of carbon dioxide and methane gas in Lake Kivu, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) said in a statement. 

An international group of researchers will meet January 13-15, 2009 at a conference in Gisenyi to grapple with the problem of Lake Kivu.

The team of researchers from Rwanda and the US are set to meet in a move to come up with ways of tackling the high levels of carbon dioxide and methane gas in Lake Kivu, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) said in a statement.

The workshop will bring together 18 scientists from the United States and researchers in Rwanda, the statement reads.

The workshop organiser will be working closely with the Rwandan Ministry of Education in organising the meeting.

The conference will also prioritize research activities and improve communication between the North American, European and African collaborators

One of the problems with L. Kivu is that the 1,600-foot deep lake never breathes. The tropical climate helps stagnate layers of the lake, which never mix or turn over.

In contrast, fluctuating temperatures in colder climates help circulate lake water and prevent gas build up.

Lake Kivu is different from both temperate and other tropical lakes because warm saline springs, arising from ground water percolating through the hot fractured lava and ash, further stabilize the lake.

Scientists at the workshop will consider how these spring inputs may vary over time under changing climates and volcanic activity.

A number of catalysts could destabilize the gas resting at the bottom of Lake Kivu. It could be an earthquake, a volcanic explosion, a landslide or even the methane mining that has recently united Rwandan and Congolese interests.
In the workshop, Anthony Vodacek, the conference organiser, Cindy Ebinger, an expert in East African Rift tectonics at the University of Rochester, and Robert Hecky, an expert in limnology study of lake systems at University of Minnesota-Duluth are all expected to attend.

Close calls occurred in 2008 when an earthquake occurred near the lake and in 2002 when a volcanic eruption destroyed parts of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, only 11 miles north of Lake Kivu. Although scientists were alarmed, neither event sufficiently disturbed the gas.

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