In the past it was said that volcanic eruptions were punishments sent from the Gods. Scientific reason has taught us that this is not the case, and that volcanic eruptions are due to burning hot magma being pushed up from the mantle through vents in the Earth’s crust. The effects of volcanic eruptions can be utterly devastating, and can destroy people, homes, families and in some cases – entire cities.
This list provides an insight into some the world’s most active volcanoes, which are therefore the most dangerous and likely to erupt. There are many popular volcanoes around the world, where people travel from far to visit and experience up close. Through this active volcanoes list, you will understand more about volcanoes around the world which have the potential to cause disaster if they erupt.
Most Dangerous Volcanoes In The World
1. Mount Vesuvius, Italy
One of the most infamous active volcanoes in the world, Mt Vesuvius in Campagnia, Italy is well known for destroying the city of Pompeii in an eruption during the year 79 AD.
To this day, Vesuvius is a dangerous and active volcano which could erupt any minute. Vesuvius last erupted in 1944, and typically has an eruption cycle of around 20 years – meaning it could be well overdue. Vesuvius is particularly dangerous due to the vast amount of people living relatively close to the crater. As it is just 5 miles from Naples, it is one of the most densely populated volcanic regions in the world – with over 3 million people living in areas which would be effected if an eruption occurred.
2. Mt Merapi, Indonesia
The most active volcano in Indonesia, “Mt Merapi” translates to “Mountain of Fire”, which is a pretty fitting name in this case. Mt Merapi has erupted on a regular basis since 1548, and has produced more lava than any other volcano in the world. Experts in this field believe that Mt Merapi was responsible for the destruction and demise of the Hindu Kingdom of Mataram.
Mt Merapi’s incredible lava flow has travelled up to 8 miles from the peak in the past, and sometimes at speeds of up to 70 mph. Mt Merapi’s most recent deadly eruption killed 353 people and left 320,000 local residents without a home. The city of Yogyakarta lies close to the slopes of the volcano, and is home to thousands of residents.
3. Mauna Loa, Hawaii
Hawaii is an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, made up of 5 volcanos. Mauna Loa is the larges volcano in the world in terms of volume and surface area.
Mauna Loa has erupted on a regular basis for the past 700,000 years, most recently in 1984. Although the volcano has a slow lava flow, and there is little danger in this regard, major eruptions are capable of causing faster flows. This is one of the most significant dangers that Mauna Loa poses to surrounding residential communities. The lava flow of the 1984 eruption didn’t reach any buildings, however the previous eruption in 1950 destroyed the entire village of Ho’okena Mauka.
Another hazard posed by Mauna Loa is the potential for huge landslides which could be caused by a collapse of the volcanoes flanks. Although this is extremely rare and unlikely, it has the potential to cause earthquakes and even mega-tsunamis.
4. Ulawun, Papua New Guinea
Ulawan has had a recorded 22 eruptions since the 1700s. It is one of the most active volcanoes in Papua New Guinea, and has had a steady stream of eruptions in recent years, where residents have seen the volcano erupt and deposit ash and lava in surrounding areas.
The biggest threat that Ulawun poses is a structural collapse, which has the potential to cause an eruption that would be catastrophic to 100s of square km of the surrounding land.
5. Galeras, Columbia
Galeras is one of the worlds most active volcano, and has been active for at least one million years. Located in the south of Columbia, it is close to the border with Ecuador, and the city of Pasto, home to 450,000 people, lies on Galeras’ eastern slopes.
Galeras went dormant in 1978, but this didn’t last long and the volcano became active again 10 years later. In 1993, scientists held a volcano conference to address the threat that Galeras posed, ironically during this conference an unexpected eruption took place and caused the death 6 scientists and 3 tourists. Galeras has erupted every year since 2000, spitting ash and lava and causing tremors throughout the region.
6. Sakurajima, Japan
Known as the “Vesuvius of the East”, this volcano is highly active. In the past, Sakurajima was its own island, however lava flows during its 1914 eruption caused it to become connected to the mainland.
Thousands of eruptions occur every year on Sakurajima, resulting is the surrounding areas being covered in ash. If there was to be a major eruption, the city of Kagoshima, which is located just miles from the volcano, would be severely effected. The city has even invested in volcano shelters, where people can go to protect themselves from falling ash and debris.
7. Yellowstone Caldera, USA
Yellowstone national park is a thing of breathtaking natural beauty, with it’s colourful sulfuric hot springs and geysers. However, underneath this major tourist attraction like a super-volcano with the ability to wipe out half of America and entirely change the course or human history.
A super-volcano is a natural phenomenon that has never been observed by mankind, so humans have never known their destructive potential in reality. Super-volcano’s can cause extremely huge eruptions, and have a larger potential for destruction than regular volcanos. The last known super-volcano eruption occurred 640,000 years ago at Yellowstone. 2.1 million years ago the first super-volcano explosion occurred, and it was an incredible 25,000 times larger that the eruption of Mt St Helens which took place in 1980.
Super-volcanos are shaped differently to regular volcanos. Rather than taking the form of a cone-shaped mountain, super-volcanos form what are known as calderas, which are the sunken areas left and formed by previous super-volcanic eruptions. All of Yellowstone national park is a giant caldera, which has the potential to erupt and destroy humanity at any time. Experts have predicted that an eruption at Yellowstone would kill 87,000 initially, and ash and gas entering the jet stream would have a devastating impact on the world’s food supply.
8. Mt Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo
This volcano is one of the most active on the African continent. It poses a unique threat, as large lava lakes often appear in the crater which are unlike those anywhere else in the world. These lava lakes are particularly threatening due to the steep-sidedness of Mt Nyiragongo.
From 1894 until 1977, this volcanos summit crater contained a huge active lava lake. In 1977, the walls of the crater became fractured, resulting in the lava lake becoming drained within an hour, which caused lava flows of up to 60mph, resulting in people fleeing their homes and the destruction of villages and lives.
The last notable explosion of Mt Myiragongo occurred in 2002, and caused lava to flow through the province’s capital Goma. Luckily, the evacuation process was already underway when this occurred, so 400,000 people had already fled their homes. However, 147 people still died. Over 4 thousand buildings were destroyed during the eruption, and over 120,000 people were left homeless when it was all over.
9. Taal Volcano, Phillipines
Located on the island of Luzon in the middle of Lake Taal in the Philippines, Taal Volcano is a cinder-cone volcano just 31 miles from the country’s capital Manila which is also home to 1.6 million.
There have been 33 recorded eruptions of Taal Volcano since 1572, and it has been estimated that in total 5000-6000 people have been killed by this volcano. Most of it’s eruptions are restricted to the intracaldera area, however, some eruptions have devastated the entire region surround the lake and its volcano. Despite it being active and dangerous, Taal is still a popular destination for hikers wishing to explore “Volcano Island”, and it attracts tourists from all over the world who can experience this beautiful place at their own risk.