Mount Kilimanjaro ( /ˌkɪlɪmənˈdʒɑːroʊ/), with its three volcanic cones, "Kibo", "Mawenzi", and "Shira", is a dormant volcano in Tanzania. It is the highest mountain in Africa, about 4,900 metres (16,100 ft) from its base to 5,895 metres (19,341 ft) above sea level. The first people known to have reached the summit of the mountain were Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller in 1889. The mountain is part of the Kilimanjaro National Park and is a major climbing destination. The mountain has been the subject of many scientific studies because of its shrinking glaciers and disappearing ice fields.
Geology and physical featuresKilimanjaro is the highest dormant volcano in Africa. . Kilimanjaro is a large stratovolcano and is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo, the highest; Mawenzi at 5,149 metres (16,893 ft); and Shira, the shortest at 4,005 metres (13,140 ft).Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, while Kibo is dormant and could erupt again. Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo's crater rim. The Tanzania National Parks Authority, a Tanzanian governmental agency,and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization list the height of Uhuru Peak as 5,895 m (19,341 ft). That height is based on a British Ordnance Survey in 1952.Since then, the height has been measured as 5,892 metres (19,331 ft) in 1999, 5,891 metres (19,327 ft) in 2008, and 5,888 metres (19,318 ft) in 2014.
GeologyThe interior of the volcanic edifice is poorly known, given the lack of large scale erosion that could have exposed the interiors of the volcano. Eruptive activity at the Shira centre commenced about 2.5 million years ago, with the last important phase occurring about 1.9 million years ago, just before the northern part of the edifice collapsed.Shira is topped by a broad plateau at 3,800 metres (12,500 ft), which may be a filled caldera. The remnant caldera rim has been degraded deeply by erosion. Before the caldera formed and erosion began, Shira might have been between 4,900 m (16,000 ft) and 5,200 m (17,000 ft) high. It is mostly composed of basic lavas with some pyroclastics. The formation of the caldera was accompanied by lava emanating from ring fractures, but there was no large scale explosive activity. Two cones formed subsequently, the phonolitic one at the northwest end of the ridge and the doleritic "Platzkegel" in the caldera centre.
Both Mawenzi and Kibo began erupting about 1 million years ago.They are separated by the "Saddle Plateau" at 4,400 metres (14,400 ft) elevation. The youngest dated rocks at Mawenzi are about 448,000 years old.Mawenzi forms a horseshoe shaped ridge with pinnacles and ridges opening to the northeast which has a tower-like shape resulting from deep erosion and a mafic dyke swarm. Several large cirques cut into the ring, the largest of these sits on top of the Great Barranco gorge. Also notable are the Ost and West Barrancos on the northeastern side of the mountain. Most of the eastern side of the mountain has been removed by erosion. Mawenzi has a subsidiary peak named Neumann Tower (4,425 metres (14,518 ft)).
Kibo is the largest cone and is more than 15 miles (24 km) wide at the "Saddle Plateau" altitude. The last activity here has been dated to between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago and created the current Kibo summit crater. Kibo still has gas-emitting fumaroles in the crater.Kibo is capped by an almost symmetrical cone with escarpments rising 180 metres (590 ft) to 200 metres (660 ft) on the south side. These escarpments define a 2.5-kilometre-wide (1.6 mi) caldera caused by the collapse of the summit. Within this caldera is the Inner Cone and within the crater of the Inner Cone is the Reusch Crater, which the Tanganyika government in 1954 named after Gustav Otto Richard Reusch upon his climbing the mountain for the 25th time (out of 65 attempts during his lifetime).The Ash Pit, 350 metres (1,150 ft) deep, lies within the Reusch Crater.About 100,000 years ago, part of Kibo's crater rim collapsed, creating the area known as the Western Breach and the Great Barranco.
An almost continuous layer of lavas buries most older geological features, with the exception of exposed strata within the Great West Notch and the Kibo Barranco. The former exposes intrusions of syenite.Kibo has five main lava formations:
Phonotephrites and tephriphonolites of the "Lava Tower group", on a dyke cropping out at 4,600 metres (15,100 ft), 482,000 years ago
Tephriphonolite to phonolite lavas "characterized by rhomb mega-phenocrysts of sodic feldspars" of the "Rhomb Porphyry group", 460,000–360,000 years ago
aphyric phonolite lavas, "commonly underlain by basal obsidian horizons", of the "Lent group", 359,000–337,000 years ago
porphyritic tephriphonolite to phonolite lavas of the "Caldera rim group", 274,000–170,000 years ago
phonolite lava flows with aegirine phenocrysts, of the "Inner Crater group", which represents the last volcanic activity on Kibo Kibo has more than 250 parasitic cones on its northwest and southeast flanks that were formed between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago and erupted picrobasalts, trachybasalts, ankaramites, and basanites. They reach as far as Lake Chala and Taveta in the southeast and the Lengurumani Plain in the northwest. Most of these cones are well preserved, with the exception of the Saddle Plateau cones that were heavily affected by glacial action. Despite their mostly small size, lava from the cones has obscured large portions of the mountain. The Saddle Plateau cones are mostly cinder cones with terminal effusion of lava, while the Upper Rombo Zone cones mostly generated lava flows. All Saddle Plateau cones predate the last glaciation. According to reports gathered in the 19th century from the Maasai, Lake Chala on Kibo's eastern flank was the site of a village that was destroyed by an eruption.
WildlifeLarge animals are rare on Kilimanjaro and are more frequent in the forests and lower parts of the mountain. Elephants and Cape buffaloes are among the animals that can be potentially hazardous to trekkers. Bushbucks, chameleons, dik-diks, duikers, mongooses, sunbirds, and warthogs have been reported as well. Zebras and hyenas have sporadically been observed on the Shira plateau.Specific species associated with the mountain include the Kilimanjaro shrew and the chameleon Kinyongia tavetana.
ClimateThe climate of Kilimanjaro is influenced by the height of the mountain, which allows the simultaneous influence of the equatorial trade winds and the high altitude anti-trades, and the isolated position of the mountain. Kilimanjaro has daily upslope and nightly downslope winds, a regimen stronger on the southern than the northern side of the mountain. The flatter southern flanks are more extended and affect the atmosphere more strongly:
Kilimanjaro has two distinct rainy seasons, one from March to May and another around November. The northern slopes receive much less rainfall than the southern ones.The lower southern slope receives 800 to 900 millimetres (31 to 35 in) annually, rising to 1,500 to 2,000 millimetres (59 to 79 in) at 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) altitude and peaking "partly over" 3,000 millimetres (120 in) in the forest belt at 2,000 to 2,300 metres (6,600 to 7,500 ft). In the alpine zone, annual precipitation decreases to 200 millimetres (7.9 in).
The average temperature in the summit area is approximately −7 °C (19 °F). Nighttime surface temperatures on the Northern Ice Field (NIF) fall on average to −9 °C (16 °F) with an average daytime high temperature of −4 °C (25 °F). During nights of extreme radiational cooling, the NIF can cool to as low as −15 to −27 °C (5 to −17 °F):674
Snowfall can occur any time of year but is associated mostly with northern Tanzania's two rainy seasons (November–December and March–May).673 Precipitation in the summit area occurs principally as snow and graupel (250 to 500 millimetres (9.8 to 19.7 in) per year) and ablates within days or years.