Gas buildup in Lake Nyos, Cameroon: The recharge process and its consequences

Applied Geochemistry
By: , and 



The gases dissolved in Lake Nyos, Cameroon, were quantified recently (December 1989 and September 1990) by two independent techniques: in-situ measurements using a newly designed probe and laboratory analyses of samples collected in pre-evacuated stainless steel cylinders. The highest concentrations of CO2 and CH4 were 0.30 mol/kg and 1.7 mmol/kg, respectively, measured in cylinders collected 1 m above lake bottom. Probe measurements of in-situ gas pressure at three different stations showed that horizontal variations in total dissolved gas were negligible. Total dissolved-gas pressure near the lake bottom is 1.06 MPa (10.5 atm), 50% as high as the hydrostatic pressure of 2.1 MPa (21 atm). Comparing the CO2 profile constructed from the 1990 data to one obtained in May 1987 shows that CO2 concentrations have increased at depths to below 150 m. Based on these profiles, the average rate of CO2 input to bottom waters was 2.6 × 108 mol/a. Increased deep-water temperatures require an average heat flow of 0.32 MW into the hypolimnion over the same time period. The transport rates of CO2, heat, and major ions into the hypolimnion suggest that a low-temperature reservoir of free CO2 exists a short distance below lake bottom and that convective cycling of lake water through the sediments is involved in transporting the CO2 into the lake from the underlying diatreme. Increased CH4 concentrations at all depths below the oxycline and a high14C content (41% modern) in the CH4 4 m above lake bottom show that much of the CH4 is biologically produced within the lake. The CH4 production rate may vary with time, but if the CO2 recharge rate remains constant, CO2 saturation of the entire hypolimnion below 50 m depth would require ∼140a, given present-day concentrations.

    Study Area

    Publication type Article
    Publication Subtype Journal Article
    Title Gas buildup in Lake Nyos, Cameroon: The recharge process and its consequences
    Series title Applied Geochemistry
    DOI 10.1016/0883-2927(93)90036-G
    Volume 8
    Issue 3
    Year Published 1993
    Language English
    Publisher Elsevier
    Description 15 p.
    First page 207
    Last page 221
    Country Cameroon
    Other Geospatial Lake Nyos
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