A volcano is a specific geological formation in the earth’s crust. It has an outlet (crater or vent, less often a caldera or fissure). Through it, poisonous gases, red-hot lava, stones, and ash burst out from the planet’s depths to the surface. This process is called eruption. When it happens, everyone who is at the epicenter will face inevitable death. The article presents a rating of the ten most dangerous volcanoes globally, which are periodically active.
Any eruption is an emergency that requires drastic measures. Unfortunately, scientists are rarely able to report the date of the next lava outburst. They only observe active volcanoes and try to predict in advance the approximate time of the next eruption. But even a timely warning cannot completely prevent the loss of life. The government is not in a position to evacuate everyone in dangerous territory.
Currently, there are about 900 volcanoes in the world that pose a clear threat. Here are the most dangerous ones.
10. Kilauea, Hawaii
The volcano is locating on a large Pacific island that gave its name to all of Hawaii. It is the main attraction of Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park and attracts numerous tourists. They come to watch the eruption from unique viewing platforms that ensure safety.
Kilauea is a shield volcano; instead of a vent, it has a caldera. It has impressive dimensions: 120 m deep, 4 km long, and 3.5 km wide. There are many cracks, crevices, and cinder cones within the caldera, through which lava flows out. There are hot springs, geysers – traces of hydrothermal and volcanic activity.
Kilauea is considered a relatively young and dangerous active volcano. It appeared about 25 thousand years ago, remaining in an active state almost all the time. It is characterizing by slow eruptions that can last for decades. The last one lasted 35 years and ended two years ago.
Kilauea never ultimately falls asleep and is a constant threat to the locals. For example, in 1980, lava flows killed several dozen people; in 2018, they destroyed a small village and damaged roads. The park is now open to the public again.
9. Mount Merapi, Indonesia
Merapi is an active volcano located on the island of Java. Scientists do not know exactly when it originated, but the region’s activity began about 400 thousand years ago. Merapi erupts at regular intervals of 7 years. Minor lava outbursts occur quite often, black smoke escaping from the cone almost always.
The “Fire Mountain” brought many disasters. A violent eruption in 1006 destroyed the kingdom of Mataram. In 1673, lava flowed destroyed several large settlements that were dangerously close to the outlet.
In 2020, the volcano entered an active phase again. A massive pillar of ash flew out of the crater, its height reaching 5 km. But scientists reassured the locals, saying that there was no real danger. The authorities did not evacuate the population but limited access to the facility.
8. Mount St. Helens, USA
Washington state is home to one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. St. Helens belongs to the Pacific Ring of Fire and has existed for about 40 thousand years. It has a conical shape and consists of layers of solidified lava mixed with ash.
Eruptions occur periodically. Thick viscous lava flows out of the vent; it quickly solidifies and does not have time to cover a large area. But in 1980, St. Helens claimed the lives of 57 people and thousands of animals. The eruption of the volcano destroyed houses, bridges, highways, railways, and communications. The authorities knew the approximate date of the disaster and evacuated people in advance. But they could not prevent the tragedy.
Now St. Helens is inactive. But experts are sure that he is not going to fall asleep. They are watching the volcano to avoid the death of people and such devastating consequences later.
7. Sakurajima, Japan
Sakurajima is an active conical volcano located on the Japanese island of Kyushu. The object is relatively young, about 13 thousand years old. It consists of three peaks: the northern, central, and southern cones. The volcano is a local attraction; tourists from all over the world come there.
For the first time, Sakurajima’s activity was recorded 65 years ago. For example, in 2013, it erupted over a thousand times. A year later, a powerful lava ejection occurred, which completely changed the relief of the island. Surprisingly, no one died. But in 1941, a real tragedy happened, which claimed the lives of 35 people.
Scientists are continually watching the dangerous object. They installed cameras and special sensors to analyze its activity. After all, there is a large city nearby, where more than half a million people live. Authorities have equipped underground shelters where you can wait for the next disaster and regularly instruct city residents.
6. Mayon, Philippines
The volcano with a height of 2462 m locates on Luzon, the archipelago’s largest island. It has a cone-shaped crater of regular shape, which was not damaged even by the most vigorous eruptions. It arose at the junction of the Philippine and continental Eurasian lithospheric plates, which explains its high activity.
Over the past 400 years, Mayon has thrown hot lava to the surface about 50 times. All eruptions are distinguished by incredible destructive power. For example, in 1814, the city of Kagawa was destroyed, 1200 people died. In 1993, 79 people were killed by lava flows.
Mayon can remain calm for a long time, but then the active phase begins. In 2018, authorities evacuated people living within an 8 km radius of the epicenter. This avoided casualties, but the infrastructure in the danger zone was destroyed.
5. Mount Nyiragongo, Congo
The unique object is located in Africa and is part of the Virunga volcanic mountain system. Its top is a perfectly round crater in which lava accumulates. It has an unusually liquid consistency, which is fraught with grave danger. If a crack appears in the hole wall, its contents will begin to flow out at a speed of 100 km / h, destroying all life in its path.
This happened twice during the observation period. In 1977, hundreds of people died. In 2002, the tragedy repeated itself. Rapidly rushing lava flows killed several dozen people. Because of these features, the locals called the volcano “the valley of the scarlet fire.”
4. Popocatepetl, Mexico
Popocatepetl is part of the Transverse Sierra, a unique and superb volcanic system. It remains active for a long time, so the Aztecs who inhabited Mexico’s territory called it the “smoking mountain.” The restless site attracts numerous tourists.
Popocatepetl is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. Due to its high population density, it poses a severe threat. If a violent eruption occurs, more than a million people could die. The authorities will not be able to evacuate everyone.
A severe tragedy happened in 2017. Popocatepetl provoked a powerful earthquake. It started in the afternoon when people were at work. More than 200 people died under the rubble. After that, he remained calm but then began to be active again.
The last eruption was in 2020. Scientists warned everyone of the growing activity but said no evacuation was required. The mountain then did not spew lava. The ashes were thrown away and could be seen from a great distance, which frightened the locals.
3. Santorini, Greece
Santorini is a colossal volcano located on the island of the same name in the Aegean Sea. Scientists believe that once there was a powerful eruption. As a result, only the eastern edge of the crater remained on the surface. This is the modern island of Thira. Much of Santorini sank to the bottom, which served as the basis for the legend of Atlantis.
There is a version that this eruption destroyed the Minoan civilization that existed in Crete more than 4 thousand years ago. Geologists believe that it had incredible power, comparable to the explosion of hundreds of atomic charges. It is impossible to name the exact date of the tragedy and separate the truth from fiction.
2. Cotopaxi, Ecuador
Cotopaxi is a dangerous active volcano located in the Cordillera Real mountains, the northwestern part of the South American continent. Its height is almost 6 km. It is a cone-shaped peak and has an enormous crater 450 m deep.
The locals called it “the steaming mountain.” It has erupted more than 50 times over the past 300 years. A severe tragedy occurred in 1768; lava flows destroyed the whole city and several small settlements. The next eruption was recorded 100 years later.
Cotopaxi seemed to be asleep. But in 2015, he was active again. The main danger threatened the city of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. It was impossible to evacuate more than 17 million people. The authorities raised the alarm, but no one was hurt.
1. Mount Vesuvius, Italy
Vesuvius is the most dangerous volcano in the world. Located on the shores of the Gulf of Naples and belongs to the Apennines mountain system. The only active volcano in continental Europe, thousands of tourists worldwide seek to visit. Scientists and researchers also come there.
Vesuvius has erupted about 80 times. Excavations carried out in the vicinity of the volcano showed that he caused the death of Pompeii. In 1944, a violent eruption killed 27 people and caused severe damage.
Scientists believe that Vesuvius will soon fall asleep. Current activity is a post-volcanic phenomenon indicating the termination of hazardous processes. But people continue to watch the object, hoping to witness the latest eruption.