The need for caution and indeed a mild alert in Abuja.
The city had tremors
then followed end emission of gases from the ground, according to The Guardian.
It is now reported that some substance that seem like magma is oozing out of the ground in Mpape.
The scenario above are the precise signs of a volcano becoming active.
All the knowledge of geology in Nigeria should be mobilized immediately to Mpape and the environment. A situation centre should be open and its phone lines, website, social media details published so citizens can report their observations and receive prompt advised. All Abuja residents should be educated instantly about volcanoes and NEMA should prepare for evacuations.
ABUJA: THE PROBABLE MEANING OF THE RUMBLES AND GASES
The rocks you see all around you are products of some sorts of volcanic eruptions at some period in the past. And what are volcanoes? They are liquid rock emanating from the earth crust below. This is nothing but a normal phenomenon due to the way the earth itself is designed.
When liquid rock issue and solidify in a place, the build-up can be so thick that it forms a plug over the shaft or hole the liquid rock, called magma is coming out from. If the pressure from beneath has reduced, the volcano becomes sort of encased or contained. Its fury has abated and that can remain so for generations upon generations. Such volcanoes are called dormant. They are so forgotten and normal life goes on on the surface. But then, dormant volcanoes can later become active. In geological past, most of the earth and the oceans boiled with active volcanoes. But most of the earth is now stable as the volcanoes fall into dormancy. Indonesia, Iceland and Hawaii are some of the few places where volcanoes are often active and they are pretty much a part of life.
Origin of volcanoes.
The earth is a huge ball of rock. It has vast hollow gouges on the surface and those hollow spaces are filled with water called oceans. As you can imagine all the weight of that material – rocks and seas is transmitted downward. All of this weight meet at the centre of the earth. So crushing is the effect that everything in that zone is liquefied. At the exact centre of the earth, it is a sphere of liquid iron, all packed at tremendous pressures of, seething, boiling in its tight-shut hellish darkness. The temperature is around that of the surface of the sun (5000 degrees Celsius) and the pressure is roughly nine billion times the pressure in the tyre of your car. Now imagine a small crack in the shell of such a pressurised system!
Every now and then, the shell containing this super-heated body of rock, steam and so forth cracks and substances rush in, making its way to the surface with the appearance of liquid fire. This is a volcanic eruption. Sometimes it is gentle and the molten rock, now called lava, just flows on the surface of the ground at a slow or not-too-slow pace. At other times, it is explosive and as devastating almost as a thermonuclear blast. When the liquid rock gets to the surface, it solidifies and become just part of the landform, part of the earth. The substances are rocks, ashes, pumices –soft spongy rocks that is often broken up and sold as solid sponges people use to scrape dead skin from around the sole of their feet.
Volcanology is not an exact science and those who study it can only listen and watch closely for signals that point to a volcano becoming active. With those signs, they can estimate fairly well predict what will or could happen next with enough accuracy to save lives.
One of the signs of a volcano getting set to erupt is that it will seem the earth is having troubles in its stomach and the person standing on that portion of the earth can unmistakably feel it. That is called earth tremors. The next is the possible ejection of gasses. Gases can come first if the crack bringing up the magma is too narrow or the magma itself is not powerful or hot enough and it is solidifying and blocking its own way along its upward course. The gases will make it to the surface first and those are signs of imminent volcanic eruption. Also note importantly that the gases could be the end of it and everything gets sealed up for the next one year, or ten years or a hundred or even a thousand years.
With reference to the Abuja incident, the pointers are towards a volcanic eruption and the signs are as clear as day. There is a need to manage public perception and reaction in this case in the direction of abundance of caution. You don’t want to cause a panic and a stampede but at the same time you don’t want to be sorry later – this is not an exact science as we have noted. If that volcano will be more active than it presently is, it will happen in and around Mpape. I don’t wish to alarm you but that is standard procedure in the study of volcanoes. Lava flow have killed top volcanologists who expected a gentle flow but the river of fire came off racing faster than expected, rolling up those scientists and burying them alive with its searing flow.
So what’s next? Geologists, seismologists (those who study movements of the earth crust) as well as volcanologists will start deploying instruments that sense movements and sounds within the earth crust. They will process the data as quickly as they can to determine what is most likely to be going on below. They will also sound the area – more like the way they take soundings in oil exploration – to detect the presence of liquid mass below the surface. They will be trying to detect the temperature and pressures and all they can find to get a hold on what is there or not there and what is likely to happen next. They will issue periodic advise for the guidance of all concerned.
In conclusion, Mpape, like most other places is a product of original volcanic eruption. (Only the lower parts of Nigeria are not products of ancient volcanoes. All our coastal cities (‘white sand’ towns like Warri, Lagos, Eket, Port Harcourt, etc) except Calabar are products of sands deposited by rivers and by the ocean. Those are areas with almost nil chances of volcanic eruptions, at least in this geological epoch. Lets throw this in; for lagniappe: Uyo is most certainly sculpted by ice. The whole landscape was covered by a thick mantle of ice in the past ages which melted over a long period carving V-shaped courses into the hills and filling the area with pebble rocks –smooth, round pebbles that are clear evidence of stones polished by sea water over long periods of time, the sea having retreated, land locking the stones.
Back to Mpape and in closing, I believe abundance of caution should be the response of the authorities. There is enough reason for that at this time.