Main Article Content
Based on geo-anthropological and geochemical studies, catastrophes similar to the unprecedented gas explosions in the mid-1980s from the Cameroonian killer lakes Nyos and Monoun, might occur in any of the 37 other lakes located along the Cameroon Volcanic Line (CVL). Because people could suffer loss and desolation from predictable catastrophes in the future, monitoring/surveillance policies must be established. Due to their location, crater lakes integrate the geochemical processes that develop in the Earth’s crust due to magmatic activities. Therefore, monitoring the surface manifestations of those deep seated and/or hydrothermal processes might reveal increases/decreases in magmatic activities. The anomalous changes in a volcanic lake induced by mixing with exogenous fluids that have a specific δ18O and δD compositional fingerprint (magmatic, metamorphic, etc.) could be utilized to predict volcanic hazards. If the steady state of a lake environment and the external and intrinsic parameters that control its hydrodynamics are clearly identified and reasonably understood, the anomalous evolutionary processes that compromise its stability can be identified. This study attempts to collect the δ18O and δD data from 17 Cameroonian lakes to help establish a volcano-related monitoring/surveillance network. This work identifies the processes that control the isotopic composition of the lakes and assesses the intra-/inter- and spatial δ18O/δD variations. Almost all of the lakes contain meteoric water. These lakes are mostly isotopically stratified; epilimnia is generally more positive than the hypolimnia. However, although the rainfall is gradually depleted in heavy isotopes when moving from the South to the North due to the latitude effect, the lakes become more enriched (0.6‰/100 km) due to evaporation. The evaluated impact of several parameters on the isotopic variation suggests that the hydrological setting may play an important, albeit not preeminent, role relative to the other factors. Consequently, the interplay between climatology, phytogeography, hydrology and morphometry might help shape the isotopic composition of the lakes.