Active volcanoes are among nature’s most powerful forces. They have shaped the Earth for eons and still continue to do so, usually bringing about extreme impact on life and property and repercussions that are felt for centuries after the initial eruption.
As awesome and dramatic as they may be to witness, volcanic eruptions mainly conjure fear among the residents within the vicinity. It would help to take a closer look at each of the ten most explosive active volcanoes in the world and learn why they are named so.
1. Yellowstone Caldera
Located beneath the Yellowstone National Park in the United States of America, this sleeping giant spans the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Labeled as a super volcano, Yellowstone Caldera has the capability to spew 1,000 cubic kilometers or 240 cubic miles of lava and ash. Its last recorded eruption took place 640,000 years ago, an eruption a thousand times larger than that of Mt. St. Helen’s 1980 explosion.
If this volcano explodes once again, it might cause a worldwide catastrophe, because of its ability to start massive tectonic activity that forces other active volcanoes to also spew ejecta. Yellowstone Caldera’s awakening can possibly mark the extinction of humankind.
Despite the availability of sophisticated equipment, scientists still cannot predict when the next eruption might happen, since an active super volcano like Yellowstone Caldera can also become dormant for thousands of years.
2. Mt. Vesuvius
Situated in Campagnia, Italy, Mt. Vesuvius manifested one of the deadliest explosions of all time. Its last eruption happened in the year 1944, despite its usual 20-year eruption cycle. Its most destructive explosion was in AD 79, which led to the annihilation of the Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae.
Despite the danger this volcano poses on the life and livelihood of the locals, it still has a dense population of around 3 million people living relatively close to its crater. Thus, aside from being one of the most active volcanoes around the world, it also is the most inhabited volcanic region.
This stratovolcano lies 35 miles from the city of Mexico. Towering at 2,426 meters or 17,802 feet, Popocatepetl stands as the second highest peak in North America. It has exploded more than 20 times since the year 1519.
Its most recent eruption was just in the year 2000. Thankfully, it did not become a major disaster, due to timely preventive actions, including the evacuation of thousands of people within the blast radius.
Because of the dynamic volcanic activity of Sakurajima, it is widely referred to as the “Vesuvius of the East.” With its eruption in 1914, the volcano has established a connection between mainland Japan and its previously separated island region.
It is one of the most active volcanoes around the world, with its last explosion occurring just last year. Because of its yearly small explosions that spew ash all over the surrounding region, the government has constructed volcano shelters for its residents, so they can take immediate refuge from Sakurajima’s unpredictable temper.
Colombia’s Galeras is undeniably one of the most explosive active volcanoes in the world, with activities going for more than a million years now. It is most infamous for its 1993 eruption, which took the lives of six volcanologists and three tourists who happened to be inside the crater when the unanticipated explosion took place.
6. Mount Merapi
Mount Merapi of Indonesia is the country’s top contender in the list of active volcanoes in the world. Merapi, which translates to “Mountain of Fire,” is located near the center of the island of Java. It is considered as the most active of Indonesia’s 130 volcanoes.
Its regular eruption has started since 1548, with the last explosion dated just last November 30, 2010. The latest explosion resulted to a number of deaths and the evacuation of thousands of people residing near Merapi.
7. Mt. Nyiragongo
Located at the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mt. Nyiragongo is one of the most active volcanoes in the whole African continent. Lying within this stratovolcano is a distinctive threat, for its main crater contains a voluminous lava lake. When the crater’s walls ruptured in 1977, the lava drained within only an hour, causing immense lava flows towards local villages and killing approximately thousands of village dwellers within its vicinity.
Nyiragongo is accountable for a significant portion of Africa’s most catastrophic volcanic eruptions.
8. UlawunNestled in the island of Papua New Guinea, this highly explosive volcano is the highest within the 1,000 kilometer long Bismarck volcanic arc, stretching from Rabaul to Wewak. The first eruption ever recorded took place in 1700. From then, there had been 22 recorded explosions in the history of Ulawun. Its lava contains inter-blended tephra, a composition of basalt and andesite springing forth from a central crater.
9. Taal VolcanoPhilippines, a country sprawling along the Pacific Ring of Fire, is the abode of an active and quick-tempered volcano -Taal. Originally standing at a towering height of around 18,000 feet, its early eruptions caused it to restructure. Since then, it has formed into a caldera, which is one of the largest in the world yet the lowest at the same time.
The cumulative death toll brought about by this volcano’s several explosions is estimated at about 5,000, most of which were dwellers in the densely populated areas around the volcanic region.
10. Mauna LoaLocated in the island of Hawaii, Mauna Loa is the largest volcano in the face of the earth. It rises at 4 kilometers above sea level and has an additional 13 kilometer height under the sea towards the bottom of the ocean. Added together, the summit of this volcano is around 17 kilometers and the enormity of its size covers half the island of Hawaii.
According to the Hawaii Center for Volcanology, Mauna Loa has erupted 39 times since its recorded 1832 explosion. Its latest eruption occurred in 1984. It has an average 6-year eruption cycle for over 3,000 years of activity.
Today, all these listed volcanoes still pose varying threats to many areas in the world. Fortunately, safety and casualty prevention measures, together with the aid of volcanology experts, have considerably lowered the fatal impact of their explosion.