The Ten Most Active Volcanoes in the World

By @MarkJohansonIBT on
  • Most Active Volcanoes in the World (1 of 10)
    Africa’s most active volcano, Mount Nyiragongo is located in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The main crater is 2km wide and, since 1882, it has erupted at least 34 times. Nyiragongo’s emits more lava than almost any other volcano in the world with flows that race downhill at speeds of up to 60 mph (97kph). The last eruption was in January of 2010. REUTERS
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    The ancient Greeks believed Mount Etna to be the home of Vulcan, the god of fire — to them, Mount Etna’s erupting merely meant Vulcan was forging weapons for Mars, the god of war. Etna, a composite volcano on the east coast of Sicily, has been continuously erupting for over 3,500 years. That makes it the volcano with the longest period of documented eruptions. It is also the largest active volcano in Europe, with an altitude of 10,922 feet (3,329 meters) and is in an almost constant state of eruption. Despite this, its flanks support extensive vineyards and orchards. The structure of Mt Etna consists of a series of nested stratovolcanoes, characterized by summit calderas - the most important one being the Ellittico Caldera, which formed about 14,000-15,000 years ago. Mt Etna spewed lava as recently as January of 2011. REUTERS
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    Most experts agree that Kilauea is Earth’s most active volcano. It is the most recent of a series of volcanoes that created the Hawaiian archipelago of islands and has been in a state of almost constant eruption since 1983. The volcano only rises 4,090 feet (1,247 meters) above sea level, but it’s still growing. There were 45 eruptions of the volcano in the 20th century alone. Kilauea ejected lava as recently as March of 2011. REUTERS
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    French for the “Peak of the Furnace,” Piton de la Fournaise is a shield volcano on the eastern side of Renunion Island in the Indian Ocean. Piton de la Fournaise is referred to locally as “le Volcan,” and stands at a height of 8,631 feet (2,631 meters) tall. There are many craters and cinder cones inside the volcano’s caldera and around its outer flanks. Many experts consider this to be one of the three most active volcanoes in the world. It has had more than 150 eruptions since the 17th century, erupting most recently in October of 2010. REUTERS
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    The island of Stromboli is the tip of a massive underwater volcano off the west coast of southern Italy and the north coast of Sicily. It has erupted nearly continuously for over 2,000 years, earning it the nickname "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean." Eruptions from the summit craters typically result in mild energetic bursts that last for only a few seconds and emit ash, incandescent lava fragments and lithic blocks up to a few hundred meters in height. The explosive style of volcanic eruption that this and other volcanoes exhibit has even been named "Strombolian." Stromboli's activity is almost exclusively explosive, but lava flows do occur at times. The volcano was particularly active during April of 2011. REUTERS
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    Lascar Volcano is located in northern Chile. It is currently the most active volcano of the Central Volcanic Zone of the Andes. Lascar has two cones - the Western Extinct Cone and the Eastern or Active Cone. Major pyroclastic eruptions of the past have failed to produce a caldera. Volcán Aguas Calientes is an older higher stratovolcano located 5 km east of Láscar. The last eruption occurred here in May of 2007. REUTERS
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    Thirty years after it blew its top, the peak is still the second most dangerous volcano in the U.S. after Kilauea on Hawaii. Because the Washington State volcano it is situated near major metropolitan centers of the Pacific Northwest and its eruptions are highly explosive, this peak is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. Surprisingly, the U.S. is the most volcanically active country after Russia, with 169 volcanoes that the USGS regularly monitors. The famous May 18, 1980 eruption killed 57 people and flattened more than 200 square miles (518 square kilometers) of forest. The volcano erupted as recently as March of 2005. REUTERS
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Most people haven't thought about earth science since high school geography class; that is, until the world's volcanoes began closing the skies and wreaking havoc on our global world. Suddenly, everyone's on alert to see which volcano will erupt next and how it might affect us.

Geologists classify volcanoes into three distinct groups: dormant, extinct, and active. Active volcanoes have erupted recently and are expected to continue to erupt again soon. The Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program defines an active volcano as having erupted within the last 10,000 years. A volcano finally goes extinct when there's no lava supply in the magma chamber beneath the volcano. There are approximately 1,500 active volcanoes in the world today and 75 percent of them are located in the Pacific Ring of Fire. On average, 50-70 volcanoes erupt every year.

Click Start to view the ten most active volcanoes on Earth.


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