Mount Cameroon is considered the only active volcano along a 1600 km long chain of volcanic complexes called the Cameroon Volcanic Line (CVL). It has erupted seven times during the last 100 years, the most recent was in May 2000. The approximately 500,000 inhabitants that live and work around the fertile flanks are exposed to impending threats from volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
In this thesis, a hazard assessment study that involves both statistical modelling of seismic hazard parameters and the evaluation of a future volcanic risk was undertaken on Mount Cameroon. The Gutenberg-Richter magnitude-frequency relations, the annual activity rate, the maximum magnitude, the rate of volcanic eruptions and risks assessment were examined.
The seismic hazard parameters were estimated using the Maximum Likelihood Method on the basis of a procedure which combines seismic data containing incomplete files of large historical events with complete files of short periods of observations. A homogenous Poisson distribution model was applied to previous recorded volcanic eruptions of Mount Cameroon to determine the frequency of eruption and assess the probability of a future eruption.
Frequency-magnitude plots indicated that Gutenberg-Richter b-values are partially dependent on the maximum regional magnitude and the method used in their calculation. b-values showed temporal and spatial variation with an average value of 1.53 ± 0.02. The intrusion of a magma body generating the occurrence of relatively small earthquakes as observed in our instrumental catalogue, could be responsible for this high anomalous b-value.
An epicentre map of locally recorded earthquakes revealed that the southeastern zone is the most seismically active part of the volcano. The annual mean activity rate of the seismicity strongly depends on the time span of the seismic catalogue and results showed that on average, one earthquake event occurs every 10 days. The maximum regional magnitude values which had been determined from various approaches overlap when their standard deviations are taken into account. However, the magnitude distribution model of the Mt. Cameroon earthquakes might not follow the form of the Gutenberg-Richter frequency magnitude relationship.
The datations of the last eruptive events that have occurred on Mt. Cameroon volcanic complex are presented. No specific pattern was observed on the frequency of eruptions, which means that a homogenous Poisson distribution provides a suitable model to estimate the rate of occurrence of volcanic eruptions and evaluate the risk of a future eruption. Two different approaches were used to estimate the mean eruption rate (λ) and both yielded a value of 0.074. The results showed that eruptions take place on average once every 13 years and, with the last eruption occurring over 15 years ago, it is considered that there is at present a high risk of an eruption to occur.