active volcano


Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

With the World’s Most Active Volcanoes


First established in 1916, the Hawaii national park is an American national park. This is found on the island of Hawaii in the state of Hawaii also; and it is the home to two active volcanoes including the Mauna Loa and the Kilauea volcanoes also. Kilauea is a very active volcano, one of the world’s most active ones and Mauna Loa is the biggest volcano in the world also.

The Hawaii Volcanoes national park is certainly going to be a fantastic gateway for many scientists and history buffs to find out about the history and the birth of the Hawaii Islands. Many use the park as a good study ground to find out about the volcanoes and the volcanic activity of the worlds active and biggest volcanoes also. The endless visitors are going to be able to admire the amazing volcanic landscapes as well as flora and fauna.

The park does have some amazing natural views to admire and it was named an International Biosphere Reserve also. This was done in 1980 and 7 years later, in 1987, the national park was made a World Heritage Site. The park covers almost 323, 000 acres of land; and there are more than half of the actual park that has been designated a Hawaii Volcanoes Wilderness area.

However, the park does offer some amazing camping and hiking options for those who really want to try these out. Though, there is such a diverse environment in the park; this starts from the sea level and reaches to the highest volcano on earth – Mauna Loa which stands at 13,677 feet high! There is a range of climates also, from the lush tropics rain forests, the amazing arid and of course the barren Ka’u Desert.

Since the 2 volcanoes are active, there are active sites around the island also; the main eruption site is the caldera of Kilauea. There is also the Pu’u’O’o vent but this vent can be remote so this isn’t a worrying eruption site unlike Kilauea vent. One of the main entrances to the park is the Hawaii Belt Road and there is also the Chain of Craters Road; and this road will lead past many craters which have occurred from historic eruptions. Kalapana town is mostly covered by lava flow.

Hawaii volcanoes National park facts
Hawaii lava tourists

The History of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Many years ago, it was thought that the goddess Pele, which is the goddess for volcanoes, lived in the Kilauea region volcano. It was thought that the local villagers of Hawaii visited the crater in order to give gifts to Pele the goddess. However in 1790, there was a party who went to the area; there were mostly warriors but a few women and children also went to the area. The group was caught up in a very violent eruption; this was very unusual at the time and many of the group was killed. Those who survived left footprints in the lava which still can be seen today; and it is a very popular site for many visitors to view.

William Ellis was the first western visitor to head to the site, he was British and he was accompanied by the American, Asa Thurston. They went to the area in 1823 and William Ellis spoke of how amazing and spectacular the land was to see. He wrote very highly of the volcanoes and since 1840, the volcanoes have both become a major tourist attraction.

At the rim of the volcanoes, hotels were run by George Lycurgus and Benjamin Pitman; and Volcano House remains the only restaurant and hotel located at the park, within the borders of the park also. In 2010 in the month of January, the hotel was closed. This was for renovations that were scheduled to be done at the hotel.

After Lorrin A Thurston (the grandson of missionary Asa Thurston) invested in the hotel from 1891 through to 1904, and was the driving force behind getting the park established as a national park. He owned the Honolulu Newspaper and printed articles about having a park established. Then in 1907, fifty members of Congress were paid to visit Kilauea; the visit included their wives and it included a dinner that was cooked over lava steam vents. However, it wasn’t until 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson on the 1st of August signed a bill that finally passed to help create the park.

At the time, Hawaii Volcanoes become the 11th National Park in America. It was the first park to be in a Territory area also. Only weeks later was the National Park Service created and they were going to run the services required in the park also.

Historical Places and Attractions to Visit

The Ainahou Ranch

The 1790 Footprints

Kilauea Crater

Ainapo Trail

Wilkes Campsite

Volcano House

Puna-Ka’u Historic District

Whitney Seismograph Vault No. 29

Hawaii National Parks Facts and information
Lava cooling

There are many amazing attractions to visit including the visitor centre. There is also the main visitor centre which offers a lot of information about the park and the endless features in the park also. The Volcano Art Centre is a great location to visit which is found in the original Volcano House hotel of 1877 and the art centre is on the National Register of Historic Places.

There is also the great Thomas A Jagger Museum which is found just west of Crater Rim Drive; and offers a great up close view of the active vent on Kilauea of Halema’uma’u. Though the American military personnel uses the Kilauea Military Camp for accommodations also.

Recent Eruptions

There was a very small explosion in the crater of Halema’uma’u; and this was on the 19th of March in 2008. This was the first eruption since 1924; and the debris covered a huge area of almost 74 acres. A very small amount of ash was seen at a local community. However, there was no lava flow from this explosion. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is an unpredictable destination to visit.


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Mount St.Helens Volcano


Mount St. Helens is found in Skamania County in Washington State and is one of the active stratovolcanoes of the world. Its location in Skamania County puts it 50 miles to the northeast of Portland and 96 miles to the south of Seattle. This volcano is part of the Cascade Range and during the current Holocene period, it has actually been the most active in this range. In addition to being the most active, scientists predict that it is the most likely to erupt of all of the volcanoes found in the United States. The volcano has an elevation of 8,363 feet and contains a horseshoe-shaped crater which developed during its most famous eruption in 1980.

Early History

Mount St. Helens has been active for around 275,000 years during which time it has experienced all sorts of volcanic activity ranging from quiet lava outpourings to violent explosive eruptions. During the previous few thousand years Mount St. Helens finally reached the elevation of 8363 feet (before had 9,677 feet) which made it the fifth tallest peak in Washington. It reached its current height after the eruption in 1980 due to an avalanche.

Volcanologists have divided the volcano’s activity into four stages: Ape Canyon (275 – 35 thousand years ago), Cougar (28 – 18 thousand years ago), Swift Creek (16 – 12.8 thousand years ago) and Spirit Lake (3.9 thousand years ago – present). Because each stage changes the composition of the volcano, destroying evidence of previous stages in the process, more is known about the more recent stages than the older ones.

Semi-Recent Eruptive Periods

The Sugar Bowl Eruptive Period took place between 850 and 900 and during this time, three lava domes developed on Mount St. Helens’ flanks. Despite these additions, there was no significant change to the volcano’s appearance during this period.

The Kalama Eruptive Period took place between 1479 and 1720 and this period is when Mount St. Helens achieved its pre-1980 height and form as around 1,600 feet of elevation were added to the volcano during this period. In the beginning of this period there were two large and explosive eruptions which took place in the years 1479 and 1482, a rare phenomenon as those dates are very close together. The early part of this period also produced many pyroclastic flows and lahars. The middle phase began around 1510 and during this point there were few lava flows but many pyroclastic flows. The Summit Dome grew during the late phase of the Kalama Period at Mount St. Helens and most likely took around 100 years to be created.

The Goat Rocks Eruptive Period at Mount St. Helens took place from 1800 to 1857 and this is when the Floating Island, a lava flow in 1801, was created. Scientists believe that the last significant eruption during this period (and in fact until 1980) took place in 1857 although there minor explosions in 1898, 1903 and 1921.

1980 Eruption

The eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 is probably the most well-known for this volcano. The first eruption in that group occurred on March 27th and was the first in more than 100 years. Eruptions continued, occurring about once an hour during March and going down to about once a day by the 22nd of April. Eruptions then paused until May 7th at which point small eruptions occurred until the 17th. Mount St. Helens had experienced over 10,000 earthquakes, causing the north flank to grow about 250 feet. This bulge kept growing, indicating a pool of magma that would erupt in the future.

The magnitude 5.1 earthquake mentioned above occurred on May 18th at which point both the summit and the northern bulge became a large landslide. This was in fact the largest avalanche of debris ever recorded in Earth’s history with a total volume of around 3.3 billion cubic yards. The landslide removed the northern flank of Mount St. Helens which in turn triggered a huge lateral blast of hot debris that traveled at around 300 miles per hour. The change in pressure caused a 9 hour long eruption that included a tall eruption column as well as many pyroclastic flows and a great deal of ash fall. The eruption also created lahars (volcanic mudflows) when the snow and ice that had topped the volcano melted and mixed with the volcanic debris.

Mount St. Helens – Future Eruptions

Although this volcano is the most likely one in the Cascades to erupt again within our lifetime, experts do not believe it will be as damaging as the eruption of 1980. They do not think that a lateral blast or such a large avalanche of debris is likely. The main hazards for renewed activity on the volcano are lahars, explosive eruptions causing pyroclastic flows and a continuation of the growth of the lava-dome. Because scientists are not able to predict the next eruption very far in advance, they are keeping close tabs on the volcano using a wide range of geological equipment.


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Mount Vesuvius Volcano


Mount Vesuvius is one of the most well-known volcanoes around the world with most of its fame coming from its eruption in 79 A.D. that completely buried the city of Pompeii. The volcano is located in Italy in the Gulf of Naples and is one of the volcanoes making up the Campanian volcanic arc. This volcano is in fact the only volcano located in Europe’s mainland that is active and measures at 1,281 meters tall.

Plate Tectonics

As mentioned above, Mount Vesuvius is one of the volcanoes found in the Campanian volcanic arc. Some of the others volcano also found in this arc are Stromboli, Vulcano, Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean Fields) and Mount Etna. These volcanoes are all part of the same subduction zone which was created by the Eurasian and African tectonic plates converging.

First Recorded Eruption

One of the main reasons Mount Vesuvius is so famous is that it is actually one of the first volcanoes to have an eruption described in detail. During the eruption in 79 A.D., Pliny the Younger saw the volcanic eruption from his location in Misenum, around 18 miles away. A short time later, he wrote about what he saw, giving us an early written record of volcanic eruptions. He described the eruption as a large cloud resembling a tree, complete with a trunk and branches of smoke and ash. Pliny the Younger is actually the namesake of the term Plinian which geologists use to describe eruptions that are similar to the one in 79 A.D. in that they are violent and produce a large volume of quickly-expanding gases, ash and rock.

The eruption Pliny the Younger saw occur in 79 A.D. is the famous eruption that completely covered the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Historians estimate that this eruption may have killed over 16,000 people. The main cause of death during this eruption was due to suffocation on the volcanic ash. The most interesting part about this famous Mount Vesuvius eruption is that due to the hot ash in the air, casts were formed which preserved the deceased in great detail. The only hints that the eruption was to come were a few days before when the underground water sources ran dry and a minor earthquake occurred.

Sunset at Pompeii
Vesuvio volcano, Italy.

Volcanic Activity

In the previous 17,000 years, Mount Vesuvius has had 8 major eruptions, including the one in 79 A.D. Around 3,780 years ago, the Avellino eruption occurred which not only caught the residents of surrounding areas by surprise but was powerful enough to cause the surrounding area (thousands of miles of it) to become desert for over 200 years.

Immediately after the eruption in 79 A.D., the volcano erupted around every 100 years until 1037, at which point it temporarily stopped. This long period of quiet caused its eruption in 1631 to kill 4,000 people in the area.

More recently Mount Vesuvius erupted on April 7, 1906, the eruption which ejected the highest amount of lava ever to be recorded from this volcano. This eruption killed 100 people and completely changed the plans for the Summer Olympics of 1908. The most recent major eruption occurred on March 18, 1944 and destroyed several nearby villages, killing 26 people.

The Volcano Today

Mount Vesuvius and its surrounding area is a national park and is open to visitors. There are several paths around it including access to the summit. Despite the imminent eruption, visiting the site should be safe as scientists expect to have warning prior to the next eruption.

Today there are 18 towns found around the base of Mount Vesuvius and together these contain 600,000 people, all living within the red zone. This zone is in the direct line of fire in case an eruption occurs and would see most of the damage.

What Would Happen In An Eruption?

Scientists have measured that Mount Vesuvius currently sits on top of a larger layer of magma that lies deep inside the earth and is 154 square miles, which is a very large amount of magma compared to other volcanoes around the world. In addition, scientists believe that the next eruption, like the one in 79 A.D. will be a Plinian eruption, meaning that it can contain flying ash and rock that reaches speeds of around 100 mph. Because of its proximity to Naples and the large number of people living nearby, an eruption could put over 3 million people at risk.

Due to new technology, the Italian government hopes to have two weeks to 20 days warning before the next eruption, hopefully providing enough time to put their evacuation plan into effect and save all of the people living in the area. Despite this, they are aware of the dangers for the people around the volcano and have offered to pay them to move out of the area, although few people have taken them up on their offer.


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Photo taken by: United States Geological Survey

Kilauea Volcano Facts


The Kilauea Volcano is the youngest volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island. Because when viewed from above it seems tiny in comparison to the neighboring volcano Mauna Loa, Kilauea was originally believed to simply be a satellite of Mauna Loa instead of a distinct volcano. Research that has taken place during the last decades, however, shows that not only is Kilauea a separate volcano, but its magna-plumbing system actually goes over 60 kilometers deep into the earth. The Kilauea Volcano sits on a curved line made up of other volcanoes such as Kohala and Mauna Kea.


The highest point on the Kilauea Volcano is slightly less than 4,200 feet. In addition, it has a large caldera at the summit that is 3 kilometers by 5 kilometers wide at the main depression but is 6 kilometers by 6 kilometers at the outermost faults and goes down 165 meters deep. The entire area of the volcano is 552 square meters. The oldest rocks found on the volcano date back 23,000 years and scientists estimate that the first eruption occurred between 300,000 and 600,000 years ago. Despite this, about 90% of the basaltic shield volcano found on the surface is made from lava flows that occurred less than 1000 years ago while 70% of the actual volcano’s surface is 600 years old or younger. The volcano gets its name, Kilauea, from the Hawaiian word meaning much spreading or spewing, referencing the frequent lava flows.

Nearby Wildlife

Because of the constant activity of the Kilauea Volcano, there are semi-frequent acid rains in the nearby Ka’u Desert, a barren region to the south of the volcano’s southwestern rift zone. Despite this, wildlife still manages to flourish in several nearby areas, especially those that are more or less undisturbed by the volcanic activity. In the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which contains most of Kilauea’s southern ecosystem, you will find a wide range of bird species in addition to several endangered species of sea turtles.

Eruption History

In addition to being the youngest volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island, the Kilauea Volcano is actually the most active of the state’s volcanoes in recent years; in fact it is one of the most active volcanoes on the entire planet. The volcano has been present in many Polynesian legends and it has been almost constantly active since the first recorded eruption which occurred around the year 1750. Most of the volcanic activity at Kilauea between 1750 and 1924 was smaller and originated in the lava lake found at the summit. In 1924, however, the volcano had an explosive eruption and from then to 1955 there was a period of short eruptions.

Current Eruption

Impressively enough, the current eruption of the Kilauea Volcano, named Pu’u O’o started 30 years ago! It began on January 3, 1983 at which point ground fissures opened and thin streams of molten lava appeared from a 7 kilometer long fissure. Throughout the course of the current eruption, the main exit point of the lava has shifted several times. It spent the first 3.5 years erupting from a central vent but in July of 1986, it suddenly moved down the rift 3 kilometers to the Kupaianaha shield, where it stayed until early 1992. When the eruption point changed, so did the style, shifting from high fountaining occurring in episodes to a continuous but quiet effusion in a lava pond.

In November of 1986, lava from this eruption point met the ocean at a point 12 kilometers away and covered Kapa’ahu along the way. The most destructive phase of the Kilauea Volcano’s current eruption began in 1990 when its lava flows flooded Kalapana, a nearby village where it destroyed more than 100 homes in just 9 months. The lava flow declined throughout 1991 but in 1992, eruptions began once again. Now lava flows usually come through the lava tubes and go into the ocean and there are few surface flows.

Throughout the current eruption, lava flows have varied greatly, ranging from 300,000 to 600,000 cubic meters each day and there were actually 24 days during early 1997 in which there was no eruptive activity.

Research And Preservation

At the rim of the Kilauea Volcano you will find the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, which was founded in 1912 by Thomas Jagger and this is where most of the research on the volcano takes place. In addition, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was created in 1916 by Woodrow Wilson. This began the area’s path towards becoming a World Heritage Site.


The first hotels appeared around the rim of the Kilauea Volcano in the 1840s. After the area became a National Park in 1916, tourism continued to increase greatly. Today around 2.6 million tourists visit the volcano and surrounding areas each year, mostly due to its location in beautiful Hawaii combined with its active yet docile nature.


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Volcanoes can be both very impressive and highly destructive. While most people are used to watching the big shows of lava spewing from volcanoes on TV and some while volcano watching during their vacations, no one can possibly be prepared to the amount of disaster that a supervolcano would cause. In recorded history no one has experienced the fury of a supervolcano first hand but it is believed the impact that such an eruption could have would be deadly not only to people in the vicinity, but even for people on the other side of the world.

Known Supervolcanoes (Yellowstone)

There are six supervolcanoes which are currently known by most people. The many visitors of Yellowstone Park may not realize it, but they are walking on top of one of the biggest threats to humanity.  To understand how massive an eruption from one of these volcanoes can be, we can look at what took place in the Yellowstone Caldera volcano that erupted 2 million years ago. The size of the eruption was so big that the amount of ash ejected was over 8,000 times the amount ejected by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.

Long Valley Caldera

The Long Valley Caldera is located in the eastern side of the state of California and it is second only to Yellowstone. It’s last eruption, though not as massive as the one in Yellowstone supervolcano could still cause tremendous damage to the population in the world; that eruption took place close to 760,000 years ago, and the result was 2,000 times the size of the eruption of Mount St Helens.

Valles Caldera

The Valles Caldera is located northern of New Mexico and its last supervolcano eruption happened over a 50,000 years ago. The effects of the supervolcano eruption at the Valles Caldera were felt as far as Iowa as some ash and rock landed all the way there.

Lake Toba

Lake Toba in Indonesia is big; in fact it is actually bigger than the Yellowstone caldera. The last time this supervolcano erupted was 74,000 years ago.  The eruption that was presented was 5,000 times larger than the Mount St. Helens eruption and it has been suggested by several scientists that this event was so massive that it changed the trajectory of humanity and resulted in what we see today.

Taupo Caldera

The Taupo Caldera is located in New Zealand and though now the view that you get is that s a spectacular lake, that lake was created by an eruption 26,500 years ago; the basin which was left after the eruption is what became the lake you see today. This massive monster is not a dead supervolcano. Volcanic activity can be observed in the area in the form of venting and hot springs.

Aira Caldera

This Caldera in Japan is pretty close to the city of Kagoshima. This is not a sleeping giant; in fact there are several earthquakes in the area caused by it and the Sakura-jima volcano is still active. Those are clear signs that the caldera is still active and it is a reason for concern for scientists.


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