Nyiragongo is a steep-sided, active volcano. It is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nyiragongo and the shield volcano of Nyamuragira, 40 km away, are part of the East African Rift Valley. This is an area of many faults where the plates are being stretched as they move away from each other.
The eruption happened on 17 January 2002. The volcano has a lava lake in its crater. Fissures opened up to the south side of the volcano and three streams of lava from the lake drained through the fissures. The lava reached speeds of 60 km/h. There was little warning as the lava reached the city of Goma. The unrest in the country has made it difficult to monitor the volcano and put emergency responses in place.