Lake Kivu Size report

Lake Kivu is one of the most exotic lakes in Central Africa. It is located on the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, in the western part of the Great Rift Valley, formed by the collapse of a continental fault. In terms of area, Lake Kivu is very small compared to Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika.

Its shores are rugged and rocky, with the 3,470-meter-high Nyiragongo volcano on the north shore. The northern part of the lake shoreline is relatively straight, and the southern part has many lake bays. The lake has many islands, the largest of which is Idjwi Island.

Lake Kivu is a special lake known as the "killing lake." Beneath the calm surface of Lake Kivu, a terrifying "devil" lurks. Scientists were surprised that about 55 billion cubic meters of methane and other gases were dissolved in the lake water as deep as 300 meters. This post introduces more interesting facts about Lake Kivu.

Lake Kivu Introduction

The formation of Lake Kivu is due to the rifting movement within the African plate, which caused the rock layers to fracture and collapse to form rift depressions, and later surface waters converged to form lakes. It was once part of a larger body of water that filled a structural trough in the Earth. Volcanic outpourings along its northern shore created a dam that separated Kivu from Lake Edward (Lake Idi Amin Dada), barred Kivu's northern outflow, and reversed its drainage to the south through the Ruzizi (Rusizi) River into Lake Tanganyika.

Lake Kivu's shores are densely populated, the principal towns being Bukavu and Goma in Congo and Gisenyi (Kisenyi) in Rwanda. Important lake ports are Bukavu and Kisenyi. Lake Kivu is nothing special in terms of the lake area, depth and morphology, but Lake Kivu is a very dangerous lake, putting the residents of the lake area at potential risk. Lake Kivu is a magical lake with "burnable lake water."

Lake Kivu Size

Lake Kivu lies at 1,460 meters (4,790 feet) above sea level; it occupies 2,700 square km (1,040 square miles) and is 90 km (55 miles) long (north-south) and 50 km (30 miles) at its widest (east-west). From an average depth of 220 meters (722 feet), it plunges to a maximum of 475 meters (1,558 feet).

Quick Facts
Elevation1,460 m (4,790 ft)
Max. length
90 km (55 mi)
Max. width
50 km (30 mi)
Surface area
2,700 sq km (1,040 sq mi)
Max. depth
220 m (722 ft)
Average depth475 m (1,558 ft)

Special resource

Scientists found about 55 billion cubic meters of methane and other gases in Lake Kivu at 300 meters deep. These gases should have come from sediments at the bottom of the lake. Gases like methane and carbon dioxide dissolve in water, and the deeper the lake, the more dissolved it is. Nyiragongo, an active volcano on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, also had a strong eruption in 2002. If a large amount of volcanic lava flows into Lake Kivu, which heats the lake and releases toxic gases in the lake, it will cause a catastrophe.

The Rwandan government signed an $80 million contract with an international association to extract the methane. The extraction method extracts the gas-rich water and sprays it into the sky. Once the water pressure is reduced, the solubility of the gas decreases, and the gas dissolved in the water (mainly carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen sulfide) bubbles and overflows. Methane from Lake Kivu can be used as a cheap energy source and exported to neighboring countries.

Final Words

The lake is also rich in fish and water birds; a large number of plankton breeds on the lake provide sufficient food for the fish. The mild and dry climate and beautiful natural scenery with volcanic islands, beautiful beaches, and fishing villages make Lake Kivu a famous tourist resort in Africa, attracting countless tourists from all over the world every year. The lake area is a convenient golden waterway; major cities such as Cyangugu, Kibuye in Rwanda, and Bukavu in Congo (DRC) can be directly reached by boat from Gisenyi. A whole host of activities and cultural experiences keep Lake Kivu visitors enthralled.


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