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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-228
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-228
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 27 May 2019

Submitted as: research article | 27 May 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) and is expected to appear here in due course.

Reliable reference for the methane concentrations in Lake Kivu at the beginning of industrial exploitation

Bertram Boehrer1, Wolf von Tümpling1, Ange Mugisha2, Christophe Rogemont3, and Augusta Umutoni4 Bertram Boehrer et al.
  • 1Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Magdeburg, Germany
  • 2Lake Kivu Management Program LKMP, Gisenyi, Rwanda
  • 3Hi-Tech Detection Systems, Massy Cedex, France
  • 4Lake Kivu Management Program LKMP, Kigali, Rwanda

Abstract. Dissolved methane in Lake Kivu (East Africa) represents a precious energy deposit for the neighbouring countries, but the high gas loads have also been conceived as a threat by the local population. This is especially the case when stratification in the lake is changed during the planned industrial exploitation. Both issues require accurate and reliable measurements of dissolved gases and temporal changes to take responsible action. Previous data fulfilled these requirements only unsatisfactorily. Prior to our measurements, there was considerable disagreement about prognosticated new formation of methane. We show how measurement accuracy could be significantly improved by implementing equipment, which was especially designed and modified for the complex gas conditions in Lake Kivu. From 150 m to 430 m depth, samples were taken to determine the amount of dissolved methane and dissolved carbon dioxide more reliably and more accurately. Beyond the provision of gas concentration profiles at the beginning of exploitation, this investigation should also provide methods to survey the further evolution of gases over time. The use of gas tight sampling bags produced highly reliable and accurate measurements. Our measurements confirmed the huge amount of stored methane, but they do clearly not support the current believe of a significant recharge beyond diffusive loss. Direct measurements with a custom-made gas pressure sensor indicated no imminent endangerment through limnic eruptions. A further survey of gas pressures, however, is mandatory to detect changing conditions. With sampling bags and gas pressure sensor, we introduced reliable and highly accurate measuring approaches for the survey of the further development of gas concentrations. This equipment only requires little effort for calibration, which can also be accomplished in remote areas of Africa.

Bertram Boehrer et al.
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Interactive discussion
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Status: closed
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Bertram Boehrer et al.
Bertram Boehrer et al.
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Short summary
Dissolved methane in Lake Kivu (East Africa) represents a precious energy deposit, but the high gas loads have also been conceived as a threat by the local population. Our measurements confirm the huge amount of methane and carbon dioxide, but they do not support the current believe of a significant recharge. Direct measurements of gas pressure indicate no imminent endangerment through limnic eruptions. A continuous survey is mandatory to take responsible action during industrial exploitation.
Dissolved methane in Lake Kivu (East Africa) represents a precious energy deposit, but the high...
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