Volcanoes have fascinated humans for as long as history. Perhaps it’s their majestic presence that draws us in or their power to destroy everything we hold dear.
Though thousands of volcanoes dot the planet, some stand out more than others, especially those that are active and erupt frequently.
Let’s look at the 10 most active volcanoes on Earth and their standout features.
Note: This list does not present volcanoes in order of activity or threat level but provides a general overview of active volcanoes around the world.
1. Kīlauea – Hawaii, United States
Topping the list of most active volcanoes on the planet is Kīlauea on the Hawaiian Islands.
Kīlauea is a shield volcano, meaning it has a broad, shield-like shape. It has been erupting continuously since 1983. The volcano is part of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and plays a significant role in Hawaiian cultural folklore.
In fact, Kīlauea eruptions have led to the creation of new land as its lava flows into the ocean.
2. Mount Etna, Sicily, Italy
Mount Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the world’s most active as well.
It is located on the east coast of Sicily and has a history of eruptions dating back to 1500 B.C. It is known for its diverse eruption styles and has been designated a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Mount Etna has more than 400 craters and vents, a reminder of just how active it is.
3. Stromboli, Aeolian Islands, Italy
Situated on a small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, Stromboli has been erupting continuously for over 2,000 years.
Its persistent eruptions have earned it the nickname “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean.” The volcano’s eruptions are typically small but can be seen from many points on the island and the surrounding sea.
If you’ve heard the term Strombolian eruptions, a type of volcanic activity, the name comes from this volcano.
4. Mount Merapi, Central Java, Indonesia
Mount Merapi, meaning “Mountain of Fire” in Javanese language, is one of the most dangerous volcanoes.
Located near the city of Yogyakarta, Merapi’s frequent eruptions have shaped the surrounding landscape and pose significant risks to nearby populations.
It’s no surprise then that Mount Merapi is an important figure in Javanese culture and mythology.
5. Piton de la Fournaise, Réunion Island
Piton de la Fournaise is another shield volcano on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean.
Similar to Hawaii’s Kīlauea, Piton de la Fournaise’s eruptions are often effusive, producing lava flows rather than explosive eruptions.
It’s also a major tourist attraction due to its frequent and relatively accessible lava flows. Its eruptions, are not usually dangerous, but do occasionally require evacuations of nearby areas.
6. Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland
Eyjafjallajökull is located in southern Iceland and capped by an ice cap.
Its 2010 eruption famously disrupted air travel across Europe as it led to the ejection of about 250 million cubic meters of ash into the atmosphere.
The volcano has a complex history with neighboring volcanoes such as Katla, and is known for eruptions that can create significant ash clouds due to the interaction of lava and ice.
7. Mount Yasur, Vanuatu
Located on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu, Mount Yasur is one of the most easily accessible active volcanoes in the world.
Featuring a nearly circular summit crater, Mount Yasur has been erupting continuously for over 800 years and is a key part of local tradition and culture.
8. Sakurajima, Kyushu, Japan
Sakurajima was once an island but now is connected to the mainland due to volcanic activity.
Located in Kagoshima Prefecture, Sakurajima’s activity has been recorded since the 8th century and it has explosive eruptions which regularly showers the nearby city of Kagoshima with ash.
9. Popocatépetl, Mexico
Popocatépetl, located near Mexico City is known colloquially as “El Popo”.
The volcano has a history of large explosive eruptions but has been characterized more by periodic exhalations and ash emissions in recent times.
It’s deeply rooted in the mythology and cultural history of the Aztecs and other indigenous peoples.
The volcano is monitored 24/7 by the National Center for Disaster Prevention in Mexico due to its proximity to large populations.
10. Fuego, Guatemala
Fuego, literally meaning fire in Spanish, is known for its frequent violent eruptions.
Located near the colonial city of Antigua, Fuego is part of the Central American Volcanic Arc. Its eruptions consist of lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and ash plumes, posing significant risks to nearby communities.
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