That’s one of the strangest natural disaster in history and shows that lakes are nature’s serial killers. They’re all nice and calm, until one day they snap and suffocate a bunch of people. Lake Nyos, located in Cameroon, is a crater lake. Created by volcanic activity, it stores insanely high amounts of carbon dioxide underneath its surface. That typically isn’t a problem, as the fluidity of the water usually gets rid of the poison queefs before they can bubble up. But Lake Nyos is very still. So for hundreds of years, the gas kept building up underwater, waiting for an excuse to let rip… Silent but deadly. Literally.
Nobody knows what triggered it, but on August 21st, 1986, the lake exploded. A column of water over 300 feet high erupted into the air, and with it, enough gas to cause a small genocide. Hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide shat out at 60 miles an hour, while a mini-tsunami of water cascaded down at the same time. When the air cleared, 1,746 people were dead. The nearby town of Nyos had 800 residents, and only six survived the lake explosion.
In 2001, French scientists finally figured out a way to make sure Lake Nyos would never kill again. The bottom of the lake now hosts pipes that carry a constant stream of gas far away. Plus, an alarm system has also been installed to warn the lakeside villages in case the silent killer returns, giving them some time to sprint 15 miles to avoid being lake-farted to death.
Also worrisome is Lake Kivu, a lake over 1,000 times larger than Nyos and in a much more populous area. It has been shown to have a historical record of causing creatures in the lake to go extinct approximately every thousand years. Scientists believe that a volcanic disturbance could cause the same kind of event seen at Nyos but on a much, much larger scale. The question is when.