Mountains of Fire & Ice: Doomsday Volcanoes

Updated on April 24, 2017
Lloyd Busch profile image

Lloyd Busch is the author of "Passive Resistance", a book on non-violent action, and has been published in the "Journal of Theoretics".

Katla Volcano: An Earth-Altering Eruption

Katla is perhaps the most dangerous volcano in Iceland. It produces large eruptions every 50 to 100 years with an average of 80 years between eruptions. The last major eruption to break through the glacial ice cap was in 1918; the ash plume reached 14km into the atmosphere and the eruption lasted for 24 days.

The 9-mile wide caldera of the volcano is located deep underneath a glacier. When an eruption occurs, all of that ice will rapidly melt, creating a Jökulhlaup, the Icelandic term for a glacial outburst flood. These outbursts create deadly lahars (torrents of mud and volcanic ash). Lahars extended the southern Icelandic coastline by 5 km during the 1918 eruption.

NASA's Earth Observatory has documented dramatic reductions in the ice cap over Katla in recent years as a result of an increase in smaller volcanic episodes and geothermal heat. In recent years hundreds of micro-earthquakes have been detected around the area of the caldera. Most of us still remember the infamous eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 that created the transportation nightmare throughout Europe. Well, several previous eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull were followed by eruptions at Katla, though the link between the two volcanoes is not understood.

The 1918 eruption of Katla produced five times as much ash as Eyjafjallajökull did in 2010. An eruption of Katla in 934 A.D. had a Volcanic Intensity Index (VEI) of 6, producing some 5 cubic km of tephra, or ejected material, and 18 cubic km of lava. The combination of flash floods, lahars, and ash would prove deadly for the people of Iceland; the eruption would destroy and poison large areas of agriculture within Iceland.

While the inevitable eruption of Katla would prove disastrous for Iceland, its potential effects could be felt globally, and not just from transportation disruption. The coming eruption has the potential to create a global cooling effect on Earth's climate called a volcanic winter. While this might seem like a good thing, considering global warming, the cooling would far outpace recent warming trends. The eruption in 1783-1784 from the fissures of Laki, part of the same volcanic system as Katla, cooled the temperatures in the northern hemisphere by 3º C. When the next eruption occurs at Katla, the enormous amount of ash produced would likely cause a similar cooling effect on Earth's climate, potentially leading to famines that could kill hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

1918 Eruption of Mount Katla


Mount Fuji: 300 Years Overdue

Japan's Mt. Fuji is perhaps one of the most recognized volcanoes in the world; its utter beauty and symmetry have made it a popular tourist destination for over 200,000 people every year. Yet beneath this beauty lies a sleeping giant whose fury only grows the longer it slumbers.

The last eruption of Mt. Fuji was in 1707 and sent ash as far away as Tokyo and up to 280 km over the Pacific Ocean. During this eruption, ash rained down on Tokyo for two straight weeks. The eruption was preceded by an 8.4 earthquake which devastated Honshu Island. Recent research has concluded that the eruption of 1707 was likely triggered by the earthquake that preceded it.

According to one of Japan's leading volcano experts, Shigeo Aramaki, in the last 2,200 years Fuji has erupted 75 times, giving an average 30-year interval between eruptions. Mt. Fuji has now been silent for over 300 years, ten times the average lull between eruptions. Hiromu Okada of Hokkaido University, who helped predict the eruption of Mount Usu, states that “If some magmatic system is ready or nearly due to erupt, an earthquake could be an effective trigger”.

The entire Japanese archipelago is a very active earthquake zone as it sits on the convergence of four separate tectonic plates including the infamous Ring of Fire. With Mt Fuji constantly building pressure, all it could take to send it over the edge is a powerful earthquake. It is estimated that an eruption would cause $21 billion in damages. The potential for heavy loss of life is extremely worrisome as Tokyo with its population of over 37 million people sits directly in Mt. Fuji's cross-hairs.

In recent years there has been an increase in smaller earthquakes at Mt. Fuji which could indicate the movement of magma underground inside the volcanic system. This could be a sign that the volcano is preparing for another eruption. Mathematical models indicate that the pressure inside Mount Fuji's magma chamber may be greater now than it was before the eruption in 1707.

An interesting note is that Mount Fuji is the point where three separate tectonic plates converge: the Amurian Plate, the Okhotsk Plate, and the Filipino Plate. It just so happens that not only is Japan overdue for an eruption at Mount Fuji, but it is also overdue for a major mega-thrust earthquake along the Nankai Trough. This fault is expected to rupture sometime in the near future, producing an earthquake of 9.0 or larger, more than enough to trigger nearby Mt. Fuji. Such a sequence would create a perfect storm of apocalypse for the people in the area: a major mega-thrust 9.0 earthquake, a resulting mega-tsunami which would strike the area before evacuations could begin, and then a major eruption at Mt. Fuji that would hamper any recovery operations. Dark times are indeed ahead.

Iceland's Volcanic System


Mount Fuji


Which Disaster Do You Think Poses The Greater Risk?

See results

Help support my other works

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Lloyd Busch

    Comments & Thoughts

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • retrojoe profile image

        Joseph Ritrovato 

        2 years ago from Vancouver, WA (nextdoor to Portland, OR)

        Excellent hub! I just want to mention a few things related to Fuji's last eruption. The earthquake that preceded it on 28 or 29 October 1707, was considered the largest in Japan's historical record until the 11 March 2011 earthquake occurred. That earlier quake, although not as large (estimated to have been 8.6-8.7 in magnitude), was much closer to Fuji than the more recent 9.0 magnitude seismic event. Not only is Fuji long over-due for an eruption, but a repeat of the 1707 earthquake could occur at any time as well. However, more likely would be two separate ruptures, occurring within days (such as happened on 23 & 24 December 1854; which produced two 8.4 magnitude quakes) or in years (such as happened in December of 1944 and 1946; resulting in two 8.1-8.3 magnitude events).


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)