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Lake Nyos. Cameroon

Lake Nyos in Cameroon is the most deadly lake in the world. And it’s not a joke. It is not famous for the number of drowned people; it doesn’t leave its banks to flood everything around; there are no scary monsters in it. However, August 21, 1986 this ill-fated lake took away at least 1,700 lives.

The lake is located in the Northwest Region of Cameroon, Central Africa. The point is that the lake is situated in the crater of the volcano, which was considered to be asleep. Because of the deep volcanic activity, which continues to this day, carbon dioxide is constantly being raised through the pores in igneous rocks. It meets with groundwater, dissolves in them, and so gets into the lake. This infernal mixture accumulates in the bottom layers of the lake and doesn’t mix with the upper layers.

Part of the deep water rises from the bottom; the carbon dioxide is released from the solution and rushes up by bubbles, carrying with it more bottom water. By inertia, the process increases rapidly. The gas rushes up like a jet from a bottle of champagne.

Usually the crater lakes are not dangerous, because the water is periodically mixed, the aerated waters rise to the surface and the gases are scattered in the atmosphere without harming the natural environment. In such cases, only strong winds, extremely cold weather, landslide or an earthquake could disturb this state. Until then, gas continues to saturate the deeper layers of water.

Thus, in 1986, such a “fountain” of the Lake Nyos reached a height of 80 meters. Everything around it was drowned in a cloud of carbon dioxide and perished. The gas cloud spreads around the neighborhood with a speed of more than 70 kilometers per hour and quickly gets even to the villages located 20 kilometers away from the lake.

You can often hear the story about a Catholic missionary father James Niller, who went to the village of Nyos, the inhabitants of which were a part of his parish. It’s hard to describe in words, what he saw. Dead silence reigned in the village – there were no birds singing, no hum of talking people. Gradually, the father James detected dead people. The worst thing was that they looked alive. Petrified in the midst of a conversation or being involved in the household chores, people were caught off guard! The survivors spoke about the sudden warming of the air and the smell of rotten eggs. The lake changed its natural color to bright orange.



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