Science has always fascinated me. This includes not only the ecological sciences, which I studied in school, but other endeavors, as well.
Krakatoa Island, A Place of Continuous Eruptions
In 1883, Krakatoa jarred the world awake with a massive eruption that could be heard a quarter way around the planet. The mighty blast also awakened the world to the destructive and deadly power of volcanoes. Though there hasn't been a volcano as powerful or deadly, since the Indonesian eruption that killed over 80,000 (mostly by tsunami), history tells us there have been plenty of bigger eruptions in the many centuries of human history that preceded Krakatoa.
Thanks in part to the advancements of science we now know that Krakatoa, along with many other highly active volcanoes, lies on the infamous "Ring of Fire". In case you are not familiar with this colorful phrase, the "Ring of Fire" is a 20,000 mile loop that roughly follows the edge of the Pacific Ocean from New Zealand to Alaska and then back south to Chile. The deadly "Ring" is created by the collision of huge underground tectonic plates, which in turn produces much geologic activity. All in all, this active region accounts for approximately two thirds of earth's volcanic and seismic activity. Nonetheless, there are many volcanoes located away from the Pacific rim. Here's a run up on a few of the most dangerous.
Pico do Fogo
In general, it can be said that the world's most powerful volcanoes are not uniformly located around the planet. Instead they occur in various hot spots, where one of more active volcanoes can be found. Most notable among these hot spots are Iceland, Italy, Greece, the Congo and Martinique Island in the Caribbean.
A Rather Harmless Fissure Eruption in Iceland
Volcanoes in the Land of the Norse
When Laki erupted back in 1783, it killed 20,000 people in Iceland alone. Even though this represents a third of the island nation's population at the time, the effects across Europe may have been even worse. For here, poisonous sulfuric gases traveled across the North Atlantic and descended across the pastoral countryside, destroying crops, livestock and many lives. Perhaps even worse, were the years of rainy, cool weather that followed the initial eruption. As a result, it is no surprise that today, when an Icelandic volcano goes off, all of Europe takes notice.
Listing the most dangerous volcanoes in Iceland is difficult, because so many of these geologic monsters are connected by underground chambers. Nonetheless, Katla and Hekla emerge as possibly the most important volcanoes to watch in the Land of the Norse.
Incidently,In Iceland, volcanoes may be named after women, or perhaps it is the other way around. Nonetheless, Katla and Hekla, are also popular girl's names, sometimes given to children at birth.
The Placid Mediterranean
The Lively Mediterranean
Over the past several thousand years, some of the most destructive volcanic explosions have occurred in the often-placid, Mediterranean Sea. Two of the biggest occurred respectively within the modern nations of Italy and Greece. The Vesuvius eruption in 79 A.D., that destroyed the ancient city of Pompei is legendary. Likewise, the humongous eruption that occurred on the Greek island of Santorini around 1600 B.C. is now believed to be the historical event that destroyed the Minoan culture and created the myth of Atlantis. The modern potential for more destructive volcanic eruptions in these places, necessitates a closer look at the north shore of the Mediterranean.
A Long History of Violent Eruptions
Mt Vesuvius has killed before and will most likely create massive death and destruction, if it would happen to go off in a big way anytime soon. The most obvious reason is the large urban population that flourishes around the base of the infamous volcanic peak. All total three million live near the volcano, including one million in the city of Naples and another 700,000 dwelling illegally on the slopes of the famed mountain..
To further complicate matters, the volcano has a 20 year eruption cycle that has gone on for many centuries. That is until recently, for at present, Vesuvius has not erupted since 1944 during WWII. So as you can see, this mountain is long overdue for a large eruption that could be catastrophic for those living nearby.
Today, towering Mt. Etna on the island of Sicily supports two active ski resorts along with an active volcano. Lately, this volcano has been relatively quiet, but the massive peak has a long history of eruptions that go back thousands of years. The last major eruption here occurred in 1992, though the peak does seem to be in some sort of state of continual activity with spectacular pyrotechnic displays having occurred in 2019, 2016, 2015 and 2014. The last fatalities occurred in 1987, when two hikers were killed, while exploring the summit.
A Killer Volcano in the Mediterranean
Between Sicily and the boot of Italy sits the tiny island of Stromboli, best known for its active volcano. Stromboli volcano has been active for may centuries, but made the news lately (2019), when a rock blast killed a hiker. The island has two small coastal settlements that would be in peril should a major eruption occur here. There is also the chance of a major volcanic event causing tsunamis in the immediate area.
Photogenic Santorini Island
Atlantis and the Destruction of Minoan Culture
For years, the location of Atlantis has remained an intriguing mystery. Only recently, have scientists discovered anything close to an answer for this perplexing question. Yes,most likely, Atlantis was a Greek Island in the Aegean that was destroyed by a monster volcano thousands of years ago.
Today, the Greek islands are considered to be some of the most spectacular of all tourist destinations. Many of these islands show signs of past and present geothermal activity with the spectacularly beautiful Santorini island being the greatest concern to contemporary residents, but even that concern does not approach any of the other ten volcanoes mentioned within this article.
Where is Atlantis Today?
A Volcano in the Jungle
Mount Nyiragonga in the Congo
Tropical West Africa may not seem like the site of a dangerous volcano, but nonetheless, Mount Nyriragonga is a highly active volcano. In the last 150 years, this volcano has erupted 34 times. The last major event occurred in 2002, when 147 were killed and 125,000 made homeless. Since 2 million people live in close proximity to this active giant, scientists worry that a major eruption with no warning could be very deadly.
Tragedy on the Caribbean island of Martinique
Danger in the Caribbean
Recent earthquakes in Puerto Rico and Haiti suggest that the Caribbean region is a place that does support destructive seismic activity. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that there are places amidst this popular tourist destination that support geothermal activity and even potentially destructive volcanoes.
The most destructive volcanic eruption of recent times, occurred in 1902 when Mt. Pelee on Martinique exploded and killed over 20,000 people. However, today the greatest concern, is the Soufriere Hills volcano on nearby Montserrat island. In 1995, this volcanic erupted in a spectacular faction, killing nineteen in the process. Today, the volcano is still active and under constant watch for further activity.
On Isle de La Palma
Mt. Fogo and Cumbre Vieja
Both Mt. Fogo, located on the Cape Verde Islands and the Cumbre Vieja, situated in the nearby Canary Islands have received a lot of scientific study lately. Most of this scientific attention revolves around the fact that both are active volcanoes. However, there is some speculation that either mountain might produce huge megatsunamis if a major rockslide developed during an eruption and slid into the sea. Some scenarios suggest enormous waves of water traversing the Atlantic to the Eastern seaboard, but fortunately, the most recent research does not back this speculation up.
© 2020 Harry Nielsen