The rather recent eruption of an Icelandic volcano a few years ago practically raised awareness about the dreadful impact of these silent killers. Ever since ancient times, volcano eruptions have meant cataclysmic changes of the world and the death of several civilizations. Given the level of devastation caused by eruptions such as that of volcanoes Santorini, Vesuvius or Krakatoa, scientists cannot help but wonder what would happen if one of the latent super volcanoes were to occur. At this point, there are several dormant killers on this planet whose eruptions will not only claim the lives of millions, but that have the potential to destroy the world as we know it. Let’s elaborate.
1. Yellowstone (U.S.)
Yellowstone Caldera is an underground super volcano with the tremendous power to unleash the next Ice Age on the planet, in the best case scenario. In the worst case scenario, geologists suggest that Yellowstone’s eruption will cause all the other active volcanoes on Earth to explode as well and bring about the end of the world.
2. Mount Vesuvius (Italy)
While Vesuvius is the only active volcano in mainland Europe, many believe it’s more than enough. The power of Mount Vesuvius will always remain vivid in mankind’s minds, thanks to the cataclysm at Pompei. While this silent killer seems to have awakened in the past century, luckily the seismic activity and eruptions have been moderate.
3. Popocatepetl (Mexico)
The story of Popocatepetl can be traced back to the Aztec civilization and an intricate love story of a king who did not want his daughter to marry another man. In an attempt to run away with the princess, Popo and his mistress are caught in an earthquake, where she dies and he laid down next to her and awaited his death. Leaving the romantic facet of this volcano aside, at this point authorities report Popocatepetl has been very active and it represents the biggest threat to the citizens of the Mexican capital.
4. Sukurajima (Japan)
Often referred to as the Vesuvius of the East, Sukurijima’s power is hard to estimate considering its last eruption practically connected the island Kyushu to the mainland. In addition, it is important to note that volcanic ash coming from Sukurijima is the main responsible factor for the “design” of landscape in the region. While the landscape may be breath taking, the truth is that there plenty of reason for people in the area to be afraid, since the volcano has been very active in the last 60 years. Despite the fact that there are special shelters constructed in its proximity, it is hard to predict the effects of a larger explosion.
5. Galeras (Colombia)
In spite of the fact that Galeras was considered an inactive volcano for at least one million years, it became chillingly active again in the 1990s. Even though the explosion did not claim many lives, the truth is that it erupted without prior warnings and that is rather worrisome. At this point, some geologists claim a huge explosion is sure to occur very soon, considering that the volcano has erupted for ten years in a row, each time more violently.
6. Mount Marapi (Indonesia)
Mount Marapi has been an active volcano for 10,000 years and in the past five centuries it has produced more devastating pyroclastic flows than any other volcano on Earth. The good news is that the Mount of Fire has been rather quiet in the past fifteen years, time during which only small explosions have been recorded. On the other hand, a larger eruption would instantaneously destroy anything around it on a range of 7 kilometer from the summit. Such was the case for the 1969 eruption, when a lava flow with a velocity of around 110 km/hour covered an impressive 13 kilometers of the surrounding area.
7. Mount Nyiragongo (Democratic Republic of Kongo)
The Mount Nyiragogo is not only the largest active volcano on the African continent, but it is also the only one with visible lakes of lave inside the crater. People living in the vicinity of the volcano have lots of reasons to be worried: the Nyuragongo has been active for over two centuries and during its last eruption in 2002, the lava covered almost half of a city nearby. Moreover, according to its eruption patterns, geologists estimate that it is about to explode in the near future.
8. Ulawun (Papua New Guinea)
Ulawun is a very large volcano situated in the Bismark arc and among the few mountains visible on a satellite image. This volcano has been active since the 1700s and its last explosion was recorded in 1980 when the Ulawun ejected an incredible amount of ash in the air, while destroying approximately 20 square kilometer of land around it. However, what worried geologists the most consists of the altitude of this volcano, which is slightly higher than the rest in the arc, an element that indicates that it may be at the peak of its structural stability. Not to mention that seism activity is frequently registered in the area.
9. Taal (Phillipines)
Located rather close to the capital of the Phillipines and part of the Pacific ring of fire, the Taal Volcano is known for devastating and powerful eruptions. What is fascinating about this volcano is the fact that it is presumed that the lake surrounding it actually constitutes the remnant of the crater of an older large super volcano. Essentially, if this hypothesis were true then it means that an eruption would release a sufficient amount of gases and hot dust to cover the Earth’s atmosphere for several months. Unfortunately, Taal started presenting several signs of unrest since the 1990s and in 2010 the authorities have risen its alert level, two facts that lead us to believe it can erupt at any moment.
10. Mauna Loa (Hawaii)
Mauna Loa is one of the largest shield volcanoes on the planet with an estimated volume of about 18,000 cubic miles. While there have been several small eruptions over the years, geologists claim that a full-blown explosion could occur at any time considering that the volcano is still active and the last outbreak is assumed to have happened approximately 700,000 years ago. On a side note, the consequences of an eruption cannot currently be estimated properly since the nature of the volcano suggests the fluid lava can spread fast and get cooled just as quickly in the waters of the Pacific Ocean.