Crater and Lava Lake
Nyiragongo's most unique feature is its enormous summit crater. It is 2,600 feet deep, or nearly half a mile. As seismic activity within the volcano increases, the crater periodically contains an active lava lake that can drain suddenly and catastrophically out of Nyiragongo, gorging the volcano's fissures with spewing fountains of fast-moving lava. This occurred during Nyiragongo's lethal eruptions in 1977 and 2002, wreaking havoc on the city of Goma and its people. In November 2002, ten months after the latest eruption, a new lava lake appeared at the bottom of the crater. It is still active today, and experts cannot predict when it will erupt and drain from Nyiragongo again.