Lake Kivu is one of the African Great Lakes. It lies on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, and is in the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift. Lake Kivu empties into the Ruzizi River, which flows southwards into Lake Tanganyika.

Lake Kivu is approximately 90 km (56 mi) long and 50 km (31 mi) at its widest.Its irregular shape makes measuring its precise surface area difficult; it has been estimated to cover a total surface area of some 2,700 km2 (1,040 sq mi), making it Africa’s eighth largest lake. The surface of the lake sits at a height of 1,460 metres (4,790 ft) above sea level. This lake has a chance of suffering a limnic eruption every 1000 years. The lake has a maximum depth of 475 m (1,558 ft) and a mean depth of 220 m (722 ft), making it the world’s eighteenth deepest lake by maximum depth, and the ninth deepest by mean depth.

Lake Kivu is a fresh water lake and, along with Cameroonian Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun, is one of three that are known to undergo limnic eruptions. Around the lake, geologists found evidence of massive local extinctions about every thousand years, presumably caused by outgassing events. The trigger for lake overturns is unknown in Lake Kivu’s case, but volcanic activity is suspected. The gaseous chemical composition of exploding lakes is unique to each lake. In Lake Kivu’s case, it includes methane and carbon dioxide, as a result of lake water interaction with a volcano.