Most people don’t live in areas where they have to worry about active volcanoes, but there are areas of the world where this is a huge concern. What would happen if heavily populated areas are in the near vicinity of an active volcano and it erupts? Well first comes the lava. While humans and animals could typically outrun the lava, large structures like homes and businesses would be left in the path and eventually would be ruined. Then there is the volcanic ash. This will cover the surrounding areas… homes, cars, and all. If the ash does get wet, it will become very heavy which could in turn cause buildings to collapse. Then there are also the deadly gases that are released by the active volcanoes when they erupt. While some of the gases may not always be harmful when the volcano starts to erupt, it could cause respiratory problems down the road. As if all of this wasn’t bad enough, if a volcano does erupt, all of these things listed above could make it hard for emergency crews to arrive and there may be a lot of traffic when people are trying to leave the area before the eruption. Here are 11 active volcanoes that you may want to avoid at all costs for the time being.
1. Galeras, Colombia
The first eruption of this active volcano was in 1580, but as recently as 2010, it erupted forcing over 8,000 people to evacuate.
2. Mauna Loa, Hawaii
This volcano is named Mauna Loa, which means Long Mountain. Because of the landscape of this area, the lava flows very slowly. While that may be nice in some instances, this actually causes earthquakes and mega-tsunamis that tend to be worse than the volcano erupting.
3. Mount Oyama, Japan
The most recent eruption of Mount Oyama was in 2000. This created such a toxic gas that people weren’t allowed to live on the island of Miyakejima until 2004. Even though they let people move back onto the island, the residents are required to carry a gas mask at all time. When an alarm goes off because the sulfur levels are too high, they must put the gas masks on to survive.
4. Mt. Merapi, Indonesia
As if having an active volcano nearby isn’t terrible enough, this volcano releases smoke 300 days a year. In 2010, this volcano did erupt. That eruption lasted for a whole month!
5. Mt. Nyiragongo, Congo
This volcano is situated at the mouth of the largest lake of lava in the world, making it extremely dangerous. Because of this, the lava runoff can travel at a rate of 60 miles per hour! The last time this active volcano erupted was in 2002, killing 147 people.
6. Mt. Vesuvius, Italy
This volcano completely ruined the city of Pompeii during one of its eruptions. But this didn’t stop people from living nearby. It’s the most densely populated volcano in the world with over 3,000,000 people living in its path. This volcano has erupted several times since 79 AD and is known to have insanely explosive eruptions. These eruptions are called Plinian Eruptions, which are named after Pliny The Younger, who was the lone survivor of Pompeii.
7. Popocatepeti, Mexico
This is the 2nd highest peak in Mexico, but it’s definitely the most dangerous! It last erupted in 1947 and since 1994 the mountain has had 8 minor eruptions. Every time there is a minor eruption, the 41,000 people living nearby are forced to evacuate. This volcano has had a minor eruption within the last year. Here’s to hoping it’s not a precursor for something larger.
8. Sakurajima, Japan
When this active volcano erupted in 1914, it turned the island into a peninsula due to the hardened lava flow. So much lava was erupted that it actually connected the island to mainland Japan. There are currently 700,000 people who live around this volcano, and they suffer through thousands of minor eruptions each and every year. They do have special shelters in case of a major eruption.
9. Taal Volcano, Phillipines
This is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. It has killed approximately 6,000 people already. Any visitors are recommended to keep a very safe distance while viewing it.
10. Ulawun, Papua New Guinea
This volcano is extremely tall. Because of its height, it could definitely cause a structural collapse, leading to massive landslides which would be devastating.
11. Yellowstone Caldera, USA
While this landscape may look heavenly, it’s also home to a supervolcano. The difference between a regular volcano and a supervolcano is that the eruption will be thousands of times larger! Because this is so large, the initial blast could kill upwards of 87,000 people instantly! Because of the area its in, the ash and gas could also hurt the food supply of the entire US, or even make it so all of the Western US is no longer existent.
I know that logically I probably have enough geological distance from volcanoes that I won’t be drowning in lava anytime soon, but does it freak anyone else out that our own planet can betray us like this? Each of these volcanoes should remind us of Nature’s wrath…and how things can go so wrong, so quickly.