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The Virunga Mountains, East Africa – January 20th, 2009

January 20th, 2009 Category: Image of the day, Volcanoes

Volcanoes on border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo - January 13th, 2009

Volcanoes on border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo - January 13th, 2009

The Virunga Mountains are a chain of volcanoes in East Africa, along the northern border of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda.

The mountain range is a branch of the Albertine Rift, a part of the Great Rift Valley. They are located between Lake Edward and Lake Kivu, partially visible at the bottom left.

The mountain range consists of eight major volcanoes. Most of them are dormant, except Mount Nyiragongo (3462 m) and Mount Nyamuragira (3063 m) in the Congo. Mount Karisimbi (4507 m) is the highest volcano. The oldest mountain is Mount Sabyinyo (3634 m).

The Virunga Mountains are home of the critically endangered mountain gorilla, listed on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species due to habitat loss, poaching, disease, and war.

Mount Nyiragongo, visible at the top right, has been described as Africa’s most active volcano. Mount Nyamuragira can be identified by its twin craters; the main crater is 250 m deep, two km wide and sometimes contains a lava lake.

Together, these two volcanoes have been responsible for 40% of Africa’s historical volcanic eruptions. They erupted most recently in 2006.

Mount Karisimbi, the southernmost volcano in the image, is the highest of the eight major mountains, at 4507 m (14,787 ft). It is flanked by Mikeno to the north and Bisoke to the east.

The summit of Mount Sabyinyo (also Sabinyo, Sabinio), far right, marks the intersection of the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.

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