Volcanoes are one of the most awesome natural events that the world can ever see, and they are also among the most dangerous. Currently there are approximately 1500 active volcanoes in the world but an active volcano can be described as one that has had an eruption at least within the last ten thousand years. There are many volcanoes that have been dormant for a lot longer than that and yet they could be some of the most dangerous if they were ever to explode. There are volcanoes in most of the world and some you would not be able to see even if you were standing on them even though they are some of the most famous volcanoes. Some areas are more active than others, but the most famous one is the Pacific Ring of Fire.
The Ring Of Fire
The Pacific Ring of Fire is the area in the Pacific Ocean, which has the most active volcanoes in the world. By the latest calculations over 75% of the active volcanoes in the world are located here. Because of that, you will find some of the world’s most famous volcanoes in that area. The area extends from the Chilean coast in South America to Alaska, to the East Coast of the Asian continent, down to Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. There are a total of 452 known volcanoes in the Pacific Ring of Fire which is also known for the severity of its earthquakes.
Most Famous Volcanoes In The Ring Of Fire
Because of the amount of volcano activity in the Ring of Fire, some of the world’s most famous volcanoes can be found here. Some of the names you may recognize right away are Mount Saint Helens in Washington State, Kilauea in Hawaii, Mount Yasur in Vanuatu, Santa Maria in Guatemala, and Sangay in Ecuador all of which are still very much active. Another couple of recognizable names in the Ring of Fire are Mount Fuji in Japan, and Mauna Loa in Hawaii.
World’s Most Active Volcanoes
One thing that is important to note is that most of the famous volcanoes are also the most active in the world. Kilauea in Japan is one of the world’s most active volcano at the moment with its last spew of lava happened in 2011. The Nyamuragira volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the most active volcano in Africa and it has erupted at the very least 34 times since 1882. Mount Etna, which was believed by ancient Romans to be the home of the god of fire Vulcan has a continuous history of eruptions that dates back over 3500 years. Piton de la Fournaise or Le Volcan as it is known to locals at Reunion Island has seen over 150 eruptions since the records show it in the 17th century.
What Happens When A Volcano Erupts
To understand famous volcanoes and even volcanoes in general it is important to understand eruptions. Before an eruption takes place there is a lot of commotion beneath the surface which involves melted rock. The substance that is created during that commotion is what is later spilled while the eruption takes place. The name of the molten lava that will flow down the side of a volcano is what is known as magma, but before the magma is expelled out it needs to rise and that is created by disturbances of low and high pressures.
The eruption does not have to be the big explosion that people associate with famous volcanoes. There are mild eruptions, which only cause steam blasts. Others are still considered mild but will have lava run down de side of the volcano and ejected ash or rock fragments. There are however more dangerous and stronger eruptions which can cause a lot of damage to the surrounding area. A Vulcanian explosion will contain solidified rock, which will produce a pyroclastic flow.
Volcanoes With The Potential Of Being The Deadliest
Some of the world’s most famous volcanoes have destroyed entire cities and killed everyone in the nearby area. Mount Vesuvius for example destroyed the entire city of Pompey and archeological records show the devastation it caused. There are some volcanoes that could cause the same type of damage to cities today with the difference that the population around those volcanoes is even larger than that of ancient Pompeii.
The city of Kagoshima in Japan has 680,000 people and the Sakurajima volcano located nearby has been experiencing small explosions since 1955. Catania near Mount Etna has 300,000 people in the area, which has seen the dangers of Mount Etna when an eruption destroyed some of its structures in the 1600’s. The 450,000 people in Pasto Colombia have been on guard due to the Galeras Volcano nearby. In 2005 then were forced to wear goggles and facemasks because of an explosion. Seattle’s population of 608,000 live in that shadows of Mount Rainier and though the volcano is quiet for now, its past history is anything but. Finally, close to a million people live in Naples, Italy. Their biggest and scariest neighbor is Mount Vesuvius, which has destroyed an entire city and the surrounding areas in the past. These are just some of the famous volcanoes near people, but there are a lot more.
If the most famous volcanoes listed before were to erupt, they could cause a lot of destruction, but that destruction would be nowhere near to what would happen if a super volcano were to erupt. There are several of these volcanoes and they have caused severe destruction in the past. Their eruptions are measured using the Volcano Eruption index or VEI. The most severe eruptions are those that reach the VEI8 classification and there have been 10 of those eruptions in recorded history, 5 of which were in the US.
What Would Happen If A Super Volcano Erupted Today?
If a super volcano like the one found at Yellowstone Park in the US were to erupt today it would instantly be a famous volcano, but there would not be as many people to tell the story. The last time that the Yellowstone volcano erupted was 640,000 years ago and it is believed that it was the main cause of the latest ice age. If an eruption of that magnitude were to happen today the people nearby would stand no chance as they would be hit by 500 degree lava. Even if the lava does not reach you the ash would and that would cause you to choke to death as you inhale it.
People in other parts of the world would not get away unharmed because the global temperatures would drop by a minimum of 21 degrees. That would cause plant life and animal life to die off, leaving the people in the rest of the world without food and very cold. In other words, the great majority of people would starve.
The problem is that some scientists believe that the volcano at Yellowstone Park erupts once every 600,000 years, and if that is the case then we are overdue. No one knows when one of these famous volcanoes will erupt, but when they do it will be a spectacle that could end life as we know it.