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20 Most Active Volcanoes in the World | UPSC IAS IPS IFS

In this article, we will look into 20 Most Active Volcanoes in the World. According to a estimate, there are about 1500 potentially active volcanoes in the world, excluding continuous belt of volcanoes that exists on ocean floor. About 500 volcanoes from this list has shown eruption in the history. While most of the volcanoes remain in dormant state for longer time but there are few which has been erupting from past few hundred years and still continue to do so. This kind of volcanoes pose a great risk to Human settlements lives near by. We will see about some of those actives volcanoes in below section.

What is Volcano

A Volcano is said to be a rupture or opening in Earth crust that allows the flow of molten rock from the beneath the earth surface along with the emission of volcanic ashes and gases like Carbon dioxide and Sulphur Dioxide. This molten rock is called magma above the earth surface and Lava below the surface.

20 Most Active Volcanoes in the World | UPSC IAS IPS IFS

Most Active Volcanoes in the World

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1. Mount Etna

  • It is an active volcano on the east coast of Sicily, Italy.
  • It is the highest and most famous active volcano in Europe.
  • Mount Etna is also in the UNSECO’s World Heritage List.
  • It consists of two layers of volcano – an ancient shield volcano at its base, and the younger Mongibello stratovolcano, which was built on top of the shield.
  • Mount Etna, towering above Catania, Sicily’s second largest city, has one of the world’s longest documented records of historical volcanism.

2. Kīlauea

  • It is an active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands.
  • It is constantly erupting from vents either on its summit (caldera) or on the rift zones.
  • Last year, the eruptions from this volcano created 600 foot deep Lava Lake.
  • The volcano’s 4,090-foot summit has collapsed to form a caldera, a broad shallow depression nearly 3 miles (5 km) long and 2 miles (3.2 km) wide with an area of more than 4 square miles (10 square km).
  • The eruption of 1955 in the eastern rift followed by violent earthquakes was the most destructive event in the history of this volcano.

3. Mauna Loa

  • It is historically considered as the largest volcano on earth dwarfed only by Tamu Massif.
  • It is one of the five volcanoes that form the Island of Hawaii in Pacific Ocean.
  • The most recent eruption of Mauna Loa in 1984 saw lava reach the outskirts of Hilo on the other side of the island.
  • The enormous volcano covers half of the Island of Hawai`i and by itself amounts to about 85 percent of all the other Hawaiian Islands combined. More on USGS.
  • Since 1843, this volcano erupted 33 times with intervals between eruptions ranging from months to decades.
  • It was last erupted in 1984.

4. Mount Vesuvius

  • Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano located on the mainland Europe.
  • It is located on the Gulf of Naples in Campania, Italy.
  • It is one of the several volcano which forms the Campanian volcanic Arc.
  • It is also best known for its eruptions in 79 AD which destroyed the famous city of pompeii and Herculaneum.
  • The volcano also has a semicircular ridge called Mount Somma that rises to 3,714 feet (1,132 m).

5. Mount Merapi

  • It is an active stratovolcano located on the border between the province of Central Java and the Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
  • It is the most active volcano in Indonesia and has erupted regularly since 1548.
  • It erupts on an average every 5 to 10 years.
  • It is feared for its deadly pyroclastic flows – avalanches of hot rocks and gas that are generated when parts of new lava domes constructed during eruptions in the summit crater collapse and slide down the mountain’s steep flanks. More on Volcano discovery.

6. Mount Nyiragongo

  • It is the world’s most active stratovolcano located on the Virunga Mountains of east-central Africa.
  • It is one of the 16 decade volcanoes.
  • It has a 1.2 km diameter summit caldera containing the world’s most active and largest lava lake.
  • Since 1882, this volcano has erupted nearly 34 times.

7. Sakurajima

  • It is an active stratovolcano in Kagoshima Prefecture in Kyushu, Japan.
  • The largest historical eruptions of Sakurajima took place during 1471-76 and in 1914.
  • Its eruption has been recorded since 8th Century.
  • Due to its frequent deposition of ash on Kagoshima, and due to its explosive potential, it is considered as one of the very dangerous volcano.

8. Mount Yasur

  • Mount Yasur is one of the most active volcano in the world, located on Tanna Island, Vanuatu.
  • It is well known for its strombolian activity that consists of regular small to violent explosions from one or several vents.
  • The strombolian activity estimated to be ongoing since at least 1774 AD.

9. Pacaya Volcano

  • It is a complex basaltic volcano in Guatemala.
  • According to a estimate, it was first erupted around 23,000 years ago.
  • This volcano has been showing lot of strombolian activity with frequent lava eruptions in past few decades.
  • Last year in 2020, volcanic explosions sent eruptions up to 125 metres above the Mackenney cone crater at Pacaya.
  • Pacaya is the largest post-caldera volcano, and has been one of Central America’s most active volcanoes over the last 500 years.

10. Santa Maria Volcano

  • It is a large active stratovolcano in the western highlands of Guatemala.
  • It is also the home of Santiaguito, one of the most active lava dome complexes in the world.
  • The oval-shaped crater extends from just below the summit of Volcán Santa María to the lower flank and was formed during a catastrophic eruption in 1902.
  • This volcano typically causes ash plumes, gas emissions, lava extrusion, and avalanches.

11. Arenal Volcano

  • It is an active andesitic stratovolcano located on the north-western Costa Rica.
  • The Arenal volcano measures at least 1,633 metres high.
  • Between 1500 to 1900, it was mostly silent. Violent eruption only started from the year 1968.
  • Arenal Volcano area is an important watershed for the Arenal Lake Reservoir.
  • Arenal has several eruptive vents. Chato is a dormant stratovolcanic cone.
  • The volcano was dormant for hundreds of years and exhibited a single crater at its summit, with minor fumaroles activity, covered by dense vegetation.
  • In 1968 it erupted unexpectedly, destroying the small town of Tabacón.
  • Arenal’s eruption from 1968 to 2010 is the tenth longest duration volcanic eruption on Earth since 1750

12. Volcan Sangay

  • It is one of the highest volcano in the world and most active one in Ecuador.
  • It is noted to be the most active volcano for the longest period of time. It is continuously erupting since 1934 and still ongoing.
  • It exhibits mostly strombolian activity.
  • The earliest report of a historical eruption was in 1628.
  • Sangay was formed by volcanic processes associated with the subduction of the Nazca Plate under the South American Plate at the Peru–Chile Trench.

13. Mount Erebus

  • Mount Erebus is the second highest active volcano in Antarctica.
  • The Mount Erebus stratovolcano rises 3794 meters (12,447 feet) above sea level.
  • It is the southernmost active volcano in the world.
  • This stratovolcano has active lava lakes in its 250-m wide summit crater.
  • As per few estimate, this volcano has been active since about 1.3 million years ago.

14. Erta Ale

  • It is one of the highly basaltic shield volcano in the Afar Region of northeastern Ethiopia.
  • It was first discovered in the year 1906.
  • It is also one of the rarest volcano with longest-existing lava lake. There are only seven others in the world.
  • It is also known as smoking mountain.
  • Beneath the Erta Ale surface, there is a huge pool of active magma.
  • The lake goes through cycles and will cool, form a black layer on top, and then suddenly convect back into liquid lava.

15. Volcán de Fuego

  • It is an active stratovolcano in Guatemala.
  • Fuego is famous for being almost constantly active at a low level. Small gas and ash eruptions occur every 15 to 20 minutes, but larger eruptions are rare.
  • The volcano is joined with Acatenango and collectively the complex is known as La Horqueta.
  • It is mostly famous for 2018 series of volcanic explosions and pyroclastic flows in Guatemala. It was the most deadliest eruptions since 1929.
  • The eruption resulted in major ashfall, pyroclastic flows and Lava flows followed by series of deadly explosions.

16. Eyjafjallajokull

  • It is one of the few active stratovolcano in Iceland.
  • It lies very near to the fourth greatest, Mýrdalsjökull, which also conceals another notorious volcano, this one called Katla.
  • Its highest point rises to 5,466 feet (1,666 metres) above sea level.
  • Eyjafjallajökull volcano occurred simultaneously with or was shortly followed by the eruption of Katla, a volcano located some 15.5 miles (25 km) to the east.
  • Eyjafjallajökull erupted from 20 March to 12 April 2010 (a flank eruption) and again from 14 April to 22 May 2010 (a summit eruption). Although the size of eruptions was small to moderate.

17. Taal Volcano

  • It is known to be one of the most active volcano in the country of Philippines.
  • Taal is defined as a “complex volcano” as it doesn’t have just one main vent or cone but several eruption points that have changed over time.
  • At least 35 eruptions have been reported within the last few hundred years – the most recent was in 1977.
  • This volcano remains to be restless, elevation in gas emission suggests continuous flow of magma and deposition beneath the surface might cause eruption any time.
  • A “very violent” eruption reported in 1911 from the main crater which caused rock particles and fragments to shoot out from this volcano.

18. Galeras

  • It is one of the most active stratovolcano not only in Colombia but in entire South America.
  • The Galeras volcanic complex is located in the Colombian segment of the South American Andes mountains.
  • This volcano dates back to 16th Century and pose an immediate threat to around 300,000 peoples who live there.
  • The active cone of the Volcano has been erupting from last 4500 years.

19. Stromboli

  • It is one of the most active volcano on Earth which has been erupting continuously since 1932.
  • It has got its name from the strombolian activity it shows.
  • It is normally famous for its regular volcanic activities which has been going on from atleast last 2000 years.

20. Masaya

  • It is one of the most active volcano in Masaya, Nicaragua.
  • It is one of the seven active volcanoes in the country which crater rim is reachable by vehicle.
  • The complex volcano is composed of a nested set of calderas and craters, the largest of which is Las Sierras shield volcano and caldera.
  • Researchers found that Masaya has reservoir of magma almost two miles from Crater which means it could erupt any time without warning.
  • Masaya Volcano emits over 330,000 tons of Carbon Dioxide each year.

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