Unpredictable and destructive volcanoes can cause catastrophic damage in a short period of time. There are hundreds of volcanoes on Earth, but only a few dozen of them are known for their violent past and are potentially dangerous in the future. Here are 12 most dangerous volcanoes that are famous for their large-scale and deadly eruptions.
1. Cumbre Vieja — Canary Islands, Spain
Cumbre Vieja. © NASA
A future eruption of Cumbre Vieja could be an international disaster. The collapse of the volcano’s western slope would cause a giant tsunami that would cover the entire Atlantic Ocean.
2. Katla — Iceland
Katla eruption in 1918. © Wikimedia Commons/Nordic Volcanological Center
An eruption of Iceland’s Katla volcano, located under Myrdalsjökull icecap, would cause massive flooding. In 934, the volcano ejected a lava flow, which is considered to be one of the largest during that period.
3. Krakatoa — Krakatoa Island, Indonesia
In August 1883, Indonesia experienced one of the deadliest volcanic eruptions in modern history. The eruption killed more than 36,000 people in Java, Sumatra, and other islands. After the eruption, the volcano collapsed, causing a tsunami that claimed several lives. Other deaths were related to thermal injuries caused by hot gas and volcanic matter.
4. Mauna Loa — Hawaii, US
Mauna Loa eruption on March 25, 1984. © U.S. Geological Survey
Mauna Loa (‘Long Mountain’ in Hawaiian) is considered to be the largest volcano on Earth. Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times since 1843.
5. Mount Merapi — Java, Indonesia
Merapi eruption on November 1, 2010. © globallookpress.com
In 2010, Merapi (‘the one making fire’ in old Javanese) produced ashfall and pyroclastic flows, which killed more than 190 people.
6. Mount Pelée — Martinique, Lesser Antilles, Caribbean
Photo of the 1902 eruption of Mount Pelée. © Wikimedia Commons/RGM-commonswiki
Mount Pelée erupted in 1902, killing 30,000 people and destroying the island’s largest town, St. Pierre.
7. Nevado del Ruiz — Colombia
Nevado del Ruiz eruption on July 1, 2012. © globallookpress.com
The volcano is famous for its small to moderate eruptions causing deadly mudflows. Nevado del Ruiz has killed thousands of people over the course of its history. One of the most catastrophic incidents occurred on November 13, 1985, when a mudflow claimed the lives of more than 23,000 people.
8. Popocatépetl — Mexico
Popocatépetl eruption on December 31, 2014. © globallookpress.com
Mudflows of Popocatépetl (‘Smoking Mountain’ in Aztec) buried many Aztec settlements. Since its awakening in 1994, the volcano has produced several powerful eruptions.
9. Mount St. Helens — Washington, US
1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. © globallookpress.com
The beautiful façade of Mount St. Helens hides many tragic incidents, including the terrible eruption on May 18, 1980, when 57 people were killed on the northern slope of the volcano. It was the most destructive eruption in the history of the United States.
10. Mount Tambora — Sumbawa, Indonesia
Mount Tambora. © JialiangGao | Wikimedia Commons
The 1816 eruption of Mount Tambora was one of the deadliest natural disasters in history. About 92,000 people were killed. The island of Sumbawa, on which the volcano is located, was under a one and a half meter high layer of ash. Five days later, the ash veil blocked the sun for several days. The year 1816 was dubbed ‘The Year Without a Summer’, and the average temperature on the planet fell by 3 degrees Celsius due to the ash and gases released by the volcano.
11. Mount Unzen — Nagasaki, Japan
Consequences of the 1991 Unzen eruption. © Reuters
The Unzen stratovolcano complex went down in history when one of its lava domes collapsed in 1792. A tsunami that formed as a result of the collapse claimed the lives of 15,000 people. In June 1991, the volcano killed another 43 people.
12. Mount Vesuvius — Naples, Italy
Vesuvius, Naples. © globallookpress.com
In 79 A.D., Vesuvius buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum under a thick layer of ash. It is assumed that more than 16,000 people died back then. It is the only active volcano in continental Europe, posing a constant threat to surrounding cities, including Naples.