OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Kilimanjaro

Latitude (dd): 
3.07
Longitude (dd): 
37.35
Elevation (m): 
5895
Country: 
Tanzania
Type: 
Stratovolcano

 

 

Kilimanjaro is a giant stratovolcano reaching an elevation of 19,335.6 ft. (5,895 m). Other names for this volcano are: Kilima Dscharo, Oldoinyo Oibor (white mountain in Masai), and Kilima Njaro meaning shining mountain in Swahili. This volcano's highest and youngest cone is named Kibo. Shira to the west and Mawenzi in the east are older cones that make up Kilimanjaro. Kibo has not been active in modern times, but steam and sulfur are still emitted. At the top of Kibo's summit is a 1 1/2 mile (2 1/4 Km) wide crater.

 

Kilimanjaro is the largest of an E-W belt of about 20 volcanoes near the southern end of the East African Rift Valley. Also prominent in this belt are Ngorongoro caldera - a superb wildlife refuge, Ol Donyo Lengi - a carbonitite volcano, and Meru. Kilimanjaro is a triple volcano with the youngest and central peak of Kibo being 7.5-8.7 miles (12-14 km) from Shira to the west and Mawenza to the east. As all of Kilimanjaro's climbers know the gentle lower slopes steepen to 30 degrees about 13,000 ft.(4 km) elevation.

 

Shira is topped by a broad plateau, perhaps a filled caldera, and erosion has cut deeply into a remnant rim. In contrast, Mawenzi's summit is a steep rocky peak surrounded by cliffs 1,600 ft.(0.5 km) to 4,900 ft.(1.5 km) high. Erosion has removed the original crater, and a great horseshoe shaped ridge opens to the northeast. Mile-deep gullies with 30-45 degree gradients make many places practically inaccessible. Massive series of radial and concentric dyke swarm make up more than 30-40 percent of the summit area of Mawenzi. Kibo's glacier-clad summit, the highest spot in Africa, is a 1.2 x 1.7 mile (1.9 x 2.7 km) caldera, with an inner crater nearly a mile (1.3 km) wide, and inside that a deep, 1,148 ft. (350 m) wide central pit. Original volcanic forms are preserved at the summit and on many of the flanks, except on the south side where glaciers have cut deeply into the cone. Nearly 250 satellitic cones occur on Kilimanjaro, most following SE and NW trends. Estimates suggest that of a total volume of about 1,150 cu. miles, Mawenzi and Shira each contribute roughly 120 cu. mi. of andesites and basalts, Kibo has the same volume of similar but unexposed rocks, plus an additional 107 cu. miles. Interestingly, more than half of Kilimanjaro's volume is represented by older, basal basalts (672 cu. mi.), so once again- as in Cascade stratovolcanoes - a basaltic shield is the most important, but least conspicuous element of a chemically complex volcano. Kilimanjaro- Africa's largest volcano and among the largest on the Earth is indeed a beautiful and fascinating volcano of the world.

 


Sources of information:
Richard, J.J., Neumann van Padang M., 1957, Africa and the Red Sea. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World, Rome: IAVCEI 4, p.75-78.

Dr. Charles A. Wood, Volcano World

The Geology of Kilimanjaro 1972; by C. Downie & P. Wilkinson