Although we don't think about it every day, there are currently 1,500 active volcanoes around the world. Of those, 565 have erupted over the course of history and 45 are erupting at this very minute, according to the Global Volcanism Program at the Smithsonian Institution. On December 9, 2019, the world was reminded of the power of volcanoes as the White Island volcano on the north island of New Zealand erupted, killing fourteen people and injuring many more. Are you located near one of these ticking time bombs?
Santa Maria, Guatemala
Santa Maria Volcano is a large active volcano in the highlands of Guatemala, near the city of Quetzaltenango. Its crater was formed by an eruption in 1902, which was one of the three largest eruptions of the 20th century, and one of the five largest eruptions in the last several years.
The volcano rests on the fault line of the Cocos and Carribean plate, and their movement is what usually results in an eruption. Santa Maria's last eruption was in March of 2011, with lava flow remaining consistent to the day.
In the past, Sakurajima used to be its own island volcano. However, after countless eruptions, the lava flows spread far enough to connect it to the Osumi Peninsula in Japan. The volcano has erupted every year since 1955, which has created an issue for the nearby city of Kagoshima.
Currently, it is the most active volcano in Japan with an eruption in 2009 killing thousands. One of the most notable eruptions occurred in 1914 after being dormant for over a century, with the lava flows swallowing the surrounding islands.
Mount Nyiragongo, Congo
At times, Mount Nyiragongo has one of the largest lava lakes in modern times. The volcano is located in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and is estimated to be responsible for around 40% of all volcanic eruptions in Africa.
The volcano has erupted an impressive 32 times since 1882, with its lava in continuous fluctuation. Because of this, the volcano is considered a serious threat to the surrounding areas, since the lava has the potential to overflow.
Mount Merapi, Indonesia
At the moment, Mount Merapi in Indonesia has produced more lava flow than any other volcano on the planet. In October of 2010, the residents of the surrounding area were put on high alert for a potential eruption.
Then, on October 25, lava began erupting out of its southern slope. The eruption was deadly, taking over 400 people's lives, leaving countless homeless. It’s most recent eruption was in 2018 and is considered to be the most active volcano in Indonesia.
White Island, New Zealand
Located 30 miles from the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, White Island is the country's most active cone volcano that has been built up by past eruptions over the last 150,000 years. The volcano erupted continuously from 1975 to 2000, making it the world’s longest recorded eruption episode.
On December 9, 2019, a large eruption occurred, which led to the deaths of fourteen individuals, and injuring dozens of others. There were a total of 47 people on the island when it erupted, all either staff or members of a tour group.
Resting 4,276 meters above sea level, Galeras is a volcano that has been active for millions of years, although its first recorded eruption took place in 1580 after the Spanish conquest. The city of Pasto is in constant danger of the of a potential eruption, which are known to be significant.
Over 500,000 years ago, and eruption deposited 15 cubic kilometers of sediment onto the landscape, greatly changing the geology of the area. In 1978, scientists believed the volcano to have finally gone dormant until it suddenly erupted just 10 years later.
In 2010, Eyjafjallajokull erupted, causing a massive plume of ash to shoot into the air, resulting in global air traffic compilations for an extended period of time. Although the eruption was a crisis for travelers, the people of Iceland weren't so concerned with the ash cloud as they were with flooding.
During the eruption, the heat melted all of the ice, forcing mass evacuations from the surrounding areas. The stratavolcano is 1,651 meters at its highest point with a crater that around 4 kilometers in diameter.
Mount Vesuvius, Italy
Arguably one of the most well-known volcanoes in the world, Mount Vesuvius is best known for its destruction of Pompeii on August 24, 79 CE. The volcano remains active today and is considered to be a serious threat to the city of Naples which is located just 9 kilometers away, making it the most densely populated region near a volcano in the world.
Recent studies have shown activity that scientists assume are signs of a future eruption similar to what occurred in ancient times.
Taal Volcano, Philippines
Located 30 miles off of Manila, Taal Volcano has had 33 recorded eruptions and is considered highly dangerous due to the number of deaths that it has caused in the past, killing around 5,000 to 6,000 people.
It is the second-most active volcano in the Philippines, with a lake in its crater that is assumed to have formed by prehistoric eruptions between 140,000 and 5,380 BP. Although the volcano has been relatively quiet since 1977, it's believed the next big eruption is imminent since 1991.
Novarupta Volcano, Alaska
Located in Alaska's Katmai National Park and Reserve, Novarupta Volcano was created in 1912, due to an eruption that is considered to be the largest in the 20th century. The eruption sent ash and debris over 30 cubic kilometers into the air with a lava flow that formed what is now known as the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.
Although the surrounding area wasn’t heavily populated, ash rained down across Alaska and even parts of Canada, causing respiratory issues to its residents.
Mount Fuji, Japan
With its last eruption in 1707 due to a large earthquake, Mount Fuji in Japan has been at risk since 2011. in 2014, scientists warned of the possibility of another eruption after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Japan in 2011.
According to researchers, the earthquake raised the pressure below the volcano which could result in an eruption. If Fuji were to erupt again, according to the Global Volcanism Program, it's estimated that it would greatly affect more than 25 million people in the surrounding area.
Mount Agung, Indonesia
located in Indonesia, Mount Agung's last eruption took place in 1963, in what is considered to be the country’s most destructive eruption to date. the 1963 eruption took place over 11 months and resulted in dense ash falls and lava flows that killed more than 1,000 people and extensive property damage.
Ash plumes have been visible from the volcano since 2018 after an eruption that occurred in 2017. Unfortunately, the volcano is located in a region home to more than 4 million people.
Mount Pinatubo, Philippines
Mount Pinatubo became one of the most feared volcanoes in the world after its catastrophic eruption in 1991, which is considered to be the second-largest eruption of the 20th century after Novarupta.
Prior to the 1991 eruption, the volcano did not have a history of explosive eruptions, although this one killed at least 722 people, and forming a lake in the volcano's caldera. According to the Global Volcanism Program, today, more than 21 million people live within 62 miles of Mount Pinatubo.
Mount Etna, Italy
Mount Etna is an active volcano located on the east coast of Sicily, Italy, between the cities of Messina and Catania. It is the highest volcano in Italy aside from the Caucasus and the highest peak in Italy south of the Alps.
It is the largest of the three active volcanos in Italy, being two and a half times the height of Mount Vesuvius. In Greek Mythology, the volcano contained the monster Typhon after he was trapped there by Zeus and the forges of Hephaestus were said to be beneath it.
Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island
Piton de la Fourniase is a shield volcano located on the eastern side of Reunion island, a French department, in the Indian Ocean. Currently, it's one of the most active volcanoes in the world with consistent eruptions from 2007 to 2010, 2015, and the most recent in 2019.
Most eruptions are accompanied by fluid lava flowing without fire out of the cent and flowing down its sides. Although rare, eruptions outside of the caldera have occurred and pose a threat to the surrounding populations.
Located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the north coast of Italy resides Stromboli, one of the three volcanoes in Italy. Throughout history, the volcano has erupted on several occasions and is constantly active with minor eruptions.
The island can be seen from many parts of the surrounding sea, earning it the name of the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean." The volcano is 926 meters above sea level with three active craters at the peak. As of 2016, the island has a population of 500 inhabitants.
Erta Ale, Ethiopia
Erta Ale is an active shield volcano in the Afar Region of northeastern Ethiopia. the most active volcano in Ethiopia is 613 meters high with one or two lava lakes depending, which have been known to overflow on the south side of the volcano.
It holds the record for the longest-existing lava lake, which is believed to have formed early in the 20th century. Erta Ale translates to mean "smoking mountain" in the local Afar language, with some noting it to be the “gateway to Hell.”
Kelud Volcano, Indonesia
Located in East Java, Indonesia, like many other Indonesian volcanoes, Kelud is particularly prone to large explosive eruptions. Since 10000 AD, there have been more than 30 eruptions, with an explosion in 2007 filling the crater with a lava dome.
Its last eruption occurred on February 13, 2014, which destroyed the lava dome, rocketing stones and ash 500 kilometers from the volcano. Over the years, the volcano has caused the deaths of thousands of people, with one mudflow following an explosion killing 5,000 alone.
Mayon Volcano, Philippines
Mayon Volcano can be found in the province of Albay in Bicol Region, on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. It's known for having a "perfect cone" shape, with its surrounding landscape being named a national park in 1938, the first in the Philippines.
It is the most active volcano in the Philippines, erupting over 47 times in the past 500 years with its first recorded eruption occurring in 1616. The most destructive eruption was in 1814 in which around 1,200 locals were killed.
Popocatépetl is an active volcano in the stated of Puebla, Morelos, and Mexico in the eastern half of the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt. it is the second-highest peak in Mexico and is connected to the Iztaccihuatl volcano to the north.
It was one of three peaks in Mexico to contain glaciers, but the size of it decreased due to weather and also volcanic activity. By 2001, the glaciers were gone except some remaining ice. Since the arrival of the Spanish, the volcano has been documented having 15 major eruptions and remains active today.