One of the most beautiful natural marvels in the world can also one be of the deadliest, should it choose to rear its anger every so often. By definition, a volcano is a rupture on the crust of a mass object that came from the earth. And while it’s true, that its majestic appearance can be a sight for sore eyes, volcanic eruptions can be as destructive to humankind as other natural disasters like earthquakes, typhoons, tornadoes, and tsunamis.
Volcanoes are either extinct, dormant or active. Throughout the centuries, there have been many that were thought to be extinct due to inactivity. But just because one hasn’t erupted in thousands of years doesn’t mean an activity in the earth’s plates such as an earthquake, can’t awaken a dead giant. There have been some volcanoes that violently spewed out lava when we all thought it was extinct. They turned out to be just dormant after all. These are the volcanoes that are the trickiest to monitor.
Good thing we have technology today to closely track when a volcano might be in danger of erupting, so as to give fair warning to residents in the nearby areas. These are some of the volcanoes that experts say may be in danger of erupting in the near future.
12 Mauna Loa, Hawaii
For all its beaches, beautiful warm weather, delicious food, and friendly people, Hawaii is actually a pretty dangerous island. Aside from being susceptible to tsunamis, it also has several active volcanoes on its shores. Mauna Loa is considered an active shield volcano, which means it was formed due to constant lava flows. It’s estimated to have been erupting for about 700,000 years. Its last eruption was in 1984, but experts don’t discount the possibility of it erupting again.
11 Hekla, Iceland
Hekla in Iceland hasn’t erupted since 2000, but that still doesn’t make it dormant. It has produced the largest volume of lava in the world and it’s considered one of the stealthiest volcanoes as well. It’s stealthy in the sense that it doesn’t give ample warning before it erupts, unlike most volcanoes. Due to its deep plumbing system, it doesn’t show any indication that it’s about to erupt until a few hours before it actually spews ash and lava. So climbers and hikers ought to beware of this characteristic.
10 Llaima, Chile
South America is laden with volcanoes and Llaima in Chile is one of the more critical ones. One of the effects of this volcano’s eruption is that it can melt a lot of the snow on its summit and the melted liquid causes flash floods and landslides. Its eruption in 2008 resulted in the evacuation of hundreds of people in the villages surrounding Llaima. The 2009 eruption on the other hand caused pyroclastic flows, resulting in damage to infrastructure in the areas nearby.
9 Krakatoa, Indonesia
Krakatoa in Indonesia is infamous for its devastating eruption in 1883. It caused massive tsunamis, and destroyed almost the entire island, wiping out 36,000 people in its wake. It continues to have small eruptions and minimal lava flow, but experts don’t predict an eruption as large as the one in 1883 anytime soon or hopefully, ever. Because of its notorious activity, Krakatoa has been featured in pop culture numerous times, with books, movies, and TV shows featuring it as its backdrop for events transpiring in the plot.
8 Mount Redoubt, Alaska
The American state of Alaska is home to the Aleutian Islands, which contain approximately 40 active volcanoes, one of which is stratovolcano Mount Redoubt. Though the active volcano doesn’t pose any threats to the sparsely populated surrounding areas, it causes headaches for airplane pilots who have to fly their carriers above ash plumes that the volcano coughs up. The ash can clog the plane’s engines, shatter windows, and worst of all, hamper the pilots’ visibility. In fact, its eruption in 1989 inadvertently caused a KLM flight to make an emergency landing at Anchorage.
7 Cascade Range (including Mount Baker and Mount Rainier)
The Cascades is a range of mountains dotting the western portion of North America, running from southern British Columbia to Washington to Oregon and all the way to Northern California. It has a multitude of volcanoes in its range, including Mount Baker and Mount Rainier, both of which have been predicted to be active volcanoes and in danger of erupting anytime. There’s constant steam rising from Mount Baker and if it erupts, the lahar can melt the snow and cause major landslides. But the most dangerous volcano among the Cascades is Mount Rainier. It’s extremely steep, so the lava will flow down at an alarming speed and potentially bury the population around the area.
6 Mount Unzen, Japan
Japan may be one of the most powerful and technologically-advanced nations in the world, but it’s also one of the most dangerous to stay in, nature-wise. It sits on a major earthquake fault line, is susceptible to tsunamis, and has a myriad of active volcanoes. Mount Unzen is a system of stratovolcanoes located on the island of Kyushu. In fact, one recorded eruption in 1792 resulted in a tsunami and the death of a staggering 15,000 people. Though it hasn’t erupted since 1995, the volcano still emits pyroclastic elements, which once destroyed around 2,000 houses. And if preventive measures aren’t taken, it has the ability to cause the same kind of damage--even without erupting!
5 Teide, Canary Islands
There’s such a thing as the Decade Volcanoes list, which lists volcanoes that have had destructive eruptions in the past. Teide Volcano in the Canary Islands is part of this list and it’s considered the third largest in the world. It’s currently considered dormant, as its last eruption was in 1909. But scientists don’t discount the fact that it can still awaken and become active once more. In the event that it does, such an occurrence would undoubtedly cause a massive catastrophe to the people living around the area.
4 Colima, Mexico
Labeled as the most active volcano in Mexico, Colima has erupted more than 40 times in the last 500 years or so. One of the aspects that contributes to its danger is the fact that the volcano has not one but two peaks. Added to that, it lies too close to hundreds of thousands of people, who will be greatly affected should the volcano have a major eruption. The most recent string of eruptions occurred in three waves and all in the same month: the first on January 10, 2015, the second on January 21, and the third on January 25. Who’s to say that the next one may or may not be happening right now?
3 Galeras, Colombia
Colombia closely monitors two volcanoes for fear of their eruptions. One of them is Galeras, which like Teide Volcano, is on the Decade Volcanoes list, as it’s the most active volcano in the country. It’s been considered an active volcano for the past 1 million years, its last deadly eruption being in 1993 and killing nine people, six of them being scientists on an impromptu expedition to study the volcano’s elements. Its last eruption was in 2010, prompting the evacuation of 8,000 people, most from the city of Pasto, which lies dangerously close to the active volcano.
2 Taal Volcano, Philippines
It’s the second most active volcano in the Philippines and has had the most frequent eruptions amongst the country’s volcanoes. Taal Volcano is located in the middle of a lake, which formed part of the crater of what was once a larger volcano under the lake’s depths. What makes this volcano dangerous is its proximity to Volcano Island, a fully inhabited island on the middle of the lake. Its last major eruption was in 1977, but it’s shown signs of seismic unrest throughout the years. The residents of Volcano Island are often asked to evacuate when the seismic activity reaches a fevered high. But so far, they’ve been able to return safely to their homes afterwards.
1 Mount Nyiragongo, The Democratic Republic of Congo
The populous country of Congo has in its midst Mount Nyiragongo, which is on the Decade Volcanoes list. It’s one of the two most active volcanoes in the country and has erupted 34 times in the last hundred or so years. This stratovolcano’s last major eruption was in 2002, forcing a whopping 40,000 residents in the nearby city of Goma to evacuate posthaste. To make matters worse, the volcano’s activity has caused carbon dioxide toxicity. The toxic gas has killed several children, raising concerns of people who live in the surrounding areas.
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