From stewing lava lakes to fatal eruptions, we chart the most active volcanoes in the world
Nature has many fearsome wonders – earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis – but none so fearsome as the most active volcanoes in the world. These hellish peaks feature in tales of ardour and heroism, loom over humble settlements and whisper threats of violence and destruction. Though potentially lethal, they hold a magnetic beauty that thrillseekers find irresistible.
We at Atlas & Boots have visited two active volcanoes – Mount Yasur in Vanuatu and Erta Ale in Ethiopia – and can attest to their deadly beauty. Below, we chart their most active peers from across the globe.
Scientists define an ‘active volcano’ as one that has erupted in the last 10,000 years. By this definition, there are 1,500 active volcanoes in the world today, 75% of which are located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, a tectonic belt that lines the edges of the Pacific Ocean.
To find the most active volcanoes in the world, we downloaded the list of notable volcanoes from the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program. We then filtered for ‘Frequently Active’, which left us with 73 volcanoes. We ranked these by three additional traits: Multiple Large Eruptions, Significant Lava Effusion and Major Eruption, weighting the first most heavily. This allowed us to refine our list to the 10 most active volcanoes in the world.
Most active volcanoes in the world
Each volcano is listed along with its traits. We also list its place in the Volcanic Explosivity Index, a ranking of the largest volcanic explosions in recent geological history (7 being the highest).
Sakurajima, Aira Caldera
Location: Kyushu, Japan
Traits: Frequently Active, Multiple Large Eruptions, Significant Lava Effusion, Major Eruption
Explosivity Index: 6
Sakurajima in the Aira caldera in Japan has been called the most dangerous volcano in the world – a sobering thought given that the surrounding city of Kagoshima has a population of 900,000. The volcano’s current eruption period began in March 2017 and has seen a number of explosive events, eruption plumes and minor ashfall.
Thankfully, the area has one of the world’s most advanced seismologic monitoring systems. Moreover, residents are trained in evacuation procedures and children are known to wear…