By: Angela Young
Have you ever heard of a limnic eruption? Well, nobody has so you are not alone. A limnic eruption is also called a lake overturn. This is a rare type of natural disaster. It occurs when dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) suddenly erupts from deep lake water suffocating wildlife, livestock and humans. This eruption has only occurred twice in Cameroon, Africa.
For a limnic eruption to occur, the lake would have to be full of gas or carbon dioxide. The CO2 may come from volcanic gas under the lake or from the decomposition of organic material. The carbon dioxide is at the bottom of the lake, and it is cooler at the bottom. The carbon dioxide dissolves easier in cooler water causing a lake overturn. All that is needed for a limnic eruption to occur is one minor trigger. For example, a trigger can be a small rise in water temperature, landslides, volcanic eruption, an earthquake, or even wind and rainstorms.
Some people suspect that landslides were possible triggers for the eruption at Lake Nyos. Once an eruption strikes, a possible tsunami can occur on the lake.
There are not many precautions you can take when there is a sign of a limnic eruption or a large amount of carbon dioxide, but there are a few things you can do. French scientists began experimenting at Lake Monoun and Lake Nyos in 1990 by inserting pipe/tube vertically in the lake to try and degas the water. The way this pipe worked was by pumping out water at the top. While the water with CO2 rises through the pipe, the carbon dioxide starts to mist out gradually. There are also fears that the CO2 from the pipes could settle on the surface of the lake...