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Top 10 Most Dangerous Volcanoes

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake

Script written by Nick Spake

They’re so majestic, yet so brutal. From Kīlauea, to Nevado del Ruiz, to Mount Bromo, these volcanoes have the potential for devastating effects. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Dangerous Volcanoes.

Special thanks to our yser Daniel Fong for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Volcanoes+in+the+World.

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Script written by Nick Spake

Top 10 Dangerous Volcanoes


They’re so majestic, yet so brutal. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Dangerous Volcanoes.

For this list, we’re taking a look at volcanoes that have caused mass destruction in the past, as well as those that could erupt in the foreseeable future.


#10: Kīlauea

USA

After a major eruption in 1983, Kīlauea has been at the center of an ongoing volcanic event. In 1990, this shield volcano engulfed the town of Kalapana with lava, turning it into a wasteland. Following a 5.0 earthquake on May 3, 2018, Kīlauea erupted once again, with lava fountains blasting up to 300 feet high. By May 4, lava flow had destroyed two homes in Leilani Estates while a 6.9 earthquake devastated the district of Puna. Within the following days, the eruption had claimed over two dozen homes with almost 2,000 people evacuating the area. The lower Puna eruption was Kīlauea’s 62nd episode within the past 35 years, and it likely won’t be the last.



#9: Nevado del Ruiz

Colombia

Over the past two million years, this stratovolcano has gone through three significant eruption periods, the most recent of which commenced 150,000 years ago. Arguably the most devastating chapter in the volcano’s history occurred in 1985 when an eruption destroyed the town of Armero, tragically claiming over 20,000 lives. Causing an estimated $1 billion in damage, this stands out as the costliest volcanic eruption of all time. Scientists are still keeping a close eye on Nevado del Ruiz to this day, as nearby Colombian towns could be subjected to eruptions which could trigger lahar (dangerously violent debris flow) in the future.



#8: Mount Bromo

Indonesia

Located in the heart of the Segara Wedi sand plain, Mount Bromo is a truly magnificent sight that’s attracted numerous tourists to East Java. Before visiting the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, though, you might want to evaluate the recent volcanic activity. Since 2004, Mount Bromo has erupted several times, with the most concerning incident occurred in 2011. Due to heavy rains, the threat of lava flow and lahar increased, with Mount Bromo’s alert status reaching Level III. Volcanic ash additionally caused multiple local airports to cancel several flights. With an increase in volcanic earthquakes occurring in 2015, you’ll want to tread lightly around this active volcano.



#7: Soufrière Hills

Montserrat
For a long period of time, this Caribbean volcano generally wasn’t viewed as a major cause for concern. Ever since becoming active in 1995, however, the Soufrière Hills volcano has caused havoc. Within the years following its first phreatic (superheated groundwater) explosion, Soufrière Hills made over half of Montserrat uninhabitable. Two-thirds of the population were evacuated from the island, with about 4,000 people seeking refuge in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, the capital city of Plymouth was completely destroyed and abandoned. Since 1999, Soufrière Hills has remained heavily monitored, with the threat of volcanic activity still very much in the cards.



#6: Mount Unzen

Japan

Mount Unzen’s most hazardous eruption arose in 1792, resulting in a landslide and mega-tsunami that ended approximately 15,000 lives. This remains the most infamous volcanic catastrophe in Japanese history. Mount Unzen settled down in the years that followed; but the volcano would eventually cook up trouble once again, as earthquakes broke out in 1989 and steam-blast eruptions occurred in 1990. Fortunately, thousands of citizens were evacuated before an especially powerful eruption in June 1991, although 43 people still perished due to hot-gas-and-rocks pyroclastic flow. While there hasn’t been an eruption since 1996, that doesn’t mean we’ve heard the last of Mount Unzen.

#5: Mount Pelée

Martinique

Martinique’s city of Saint-Pierre was once known as the Paris of the Caribbean. This thriving commune was plagued with tragedy in 1902, though, forever changing its status. Mount Pelée caused the deadliest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. Not only was Saint-Pierre destroyed, but 28,000 people were killed, with a shoemaker and a prisoner supposedly being the only two survivors. Although new villages would be constructed in the years to come, Saint-Pierre has never quite recovered from this tragedy. As for Mount Pelée, it’s been deemed inactive since 2013, although the scars left behind from the 1902 disaster will never fade away.



#4: Krakatoa

Indonesia

Another Indonesia entry, this is one legendary volcano. After being quiescent for a long time, it awakened in 1883 with multiple eruptions, one of which was so loud that it could be heard a whopping 2,800 miles away! These gigantic explosions, coupled with tsunamis that reached beyond 100 feet tall, resulted in a massive death toll of over 36,000 victims. The devastation would leave its mark in more ways in one, notably creating fiery sunsets. (It’s been theorized that these red skies inspired the background for Edvard Munch's famous painting “The Scream.”) A new island would later emerge from Krakatoa’s caldera, known as Anak Krakatau, which remains a literal hotspot for volcanic activity.



#3: Mount Vesuvius

Italy

Mount Vesuvius’ notorious history stretches all the way back to AD 79 when the Roman Cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were lost in a storm of volcanic chaos. With a combined population of somewhere between 16,000 and 20,000, it’s hard to say exactly how many were buried under rock and lava, although the remains of approximately 1,500 people have been unearthed. Throughout the following centuries, Mount Vesuvius erupted on numerous other occasions. While the last big bang was in 1944, the 3 million people living in the volcano’s vicinity would most certainly be in jeopardy if confronted with another ash-pluming Plinian eruption.



#2: Sakurajima

Japan

A massive volcanic caldera, Aira Caldera is believed to have been created from an eruption that took place at least 22,000 years ago. This area is hazardous for a variety of reasons, although the active volcano of Sakurajima has sparked the most concern. It unleashed an enormous eruption in 1914 and has been continually erupting since 1955. While nothing has reached the heights of the 1914 disaster, it’s been speculation that we could face an eruption of that magnitude within the next couple decades. What makes this especially concerning is that the city of Kagoshima is also part of Aira Caldera, putting numerous people in the line of danger.



#1: Michoacán–Guanajuato

Mexico

Compared to some of our other entries, the Michoacán–Guanajuato volcanic field hasn’t been the site of the deadliest eruptions ever recorded. Of course that’s not to say its various shield volcanoes haven’t left an impact. The Parícutin volcano emerged and continually erupted from 1943 to 1952 while El Jorullo blasted much earlier, from 1759 to 1774. What earns Michoacán–Guanajuato our top spot is the threat it poses. Approximately 6 million people live within a 5-kilometer radius of the area. The sheer number of people at risk, along with 1,400 vents scattered throughout the field, ultimately helped Michoacán–Guanajuato rocket to the peak of our countdown.

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