How Volcanoes Work

 Image Described in Caption
 Lake Nyos, Cameroon -- Lake Nyos is one of about thirty similar crater lakes that lie along the Cameroon Volcanic Line in western Cameroon. It occupies a maar crater which formed from a hydrovolcanic eruption about 400 years ago. On August 21, 1986, Lake Nyos belched forth a massive cloud of CO2 gas that descended down a spillway to the north and overwhelmed Nyos village and adjacent settlements. The 50-meter gas cloud asphyxiated 1,742 people and thousands of cattle and birds. The CO2 eruption brought up iron-rich bottom waters which were oxidized to give the lake waters the red-brown color shown here. Courtesy of J. P. Lockwood, USGS.