The Most Dangerous Active Volcanoes In The World

30. Novarupta, Alaska, United States

Last Erupted: 1912
Type of Volcano: Caldera

Being by far the youngest volcano on our list, it will be no surprise that its name translates to “newly erupted” in Latin. Its inaugural eruption in 1912 was the largest volcanic eruption in the 20th century and released roughly 30 times as much magma as the Mt. St. Helens eruption. While it forever changed the topography and environment around it, due to its remote location, there was no direct loss of life.

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29. Mauna Loa, Hawaii, United States

Last Erupted: 1984
Type of Volcano: Shield

Mauna Loa is one of five major active volcanoes on Hawaii’s big island. It is considered by most to be the largest active volcano in the world by both mass and volume. While its most recent eruption in 1984 luckily caused no loss of life, eruptions in 1926 and 1950 leveled entire villages. Mauna Loa is designated in the Decade Volcanoes program, which closely monitors the world’s most dangerous volcanoes.

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28. Mount Sinaburg, North Sumatra, Indonesia

Last Erupted: 2018
Type of Volcano: Stratovolcano

This beauty on the island of North Sumatra is currently erupting, but prior to its eruptions in 2010, hadn’t erupted since the early 1600s. This current period of long eruptions is similar to Mount Unzen, since it erupted for five straight years after being dormant for over 200. On average, it has produced two eruptions per day over this active period, and due to evacuations and heavy monitoring, only 24 people have lost their lives.

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27. Mount Hood, Oregon, United States

Last Erupted: 1866
Type of Volcano: Stratovolcano

Mt. Hood is both one of North America’s most iconic peaks and also Oregon’s most likely to erupt. While experts predict that there is only a 5-7% chance that it erupts in the next 30 years, any eruption could be catastrophic to the region. Even while it’s not erupting, it is known to have deadly vents that can emit large amounts of carbon and sulfur dioxide. These vents contributed to the only known volcanic deaths in the Cascades prior to the eruption of Mt. St. Helens.

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26. Mount Bromo, East Java, Indonesia

Last Erupted: 2016
Type of Volcano: Somma

While just a part of the Tenger Massif, it’s the most well known of the volcanoes and calderas in this volcanic cluster. The recent eruptions over the last 15 years have primarily affected air quality and prevented air travel, but with the city of Malang and its 800,000 residents in Bromo’s shadow, it has the potential for an extremely deadly eruption.

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25. Mount Redoubt, Alaska, United States

Last Erupted: 2009
Type of Volcano: Stratovolcano

Due to its relatively remote location along the coast of Alaska, only its last four eruptions from 1902-2009 have been recorded. In addition, while its numerous recent eruptions have been cause for concern, it’s also the least deadly volcano on our list. That being said, its eruption in 1989 caused an estimated 160 million dollars of damage, making it the second mostly costly eruption in United States history.

Image Source: USGS/Wikimedia Commons

24. Unzen Volcano, Japan

Last Erupted: 1996
Type of Volcano: Stratovolcano

While Unzen has had a number of eruptions and pyroclastic flows in the early 1990s that claimed 43 lives and thousands of buildings, it is most ominously known for its major eruption in 1792. That eruption and the resulting seismic activity caused the east flank of its dome to unexpectedly collapse, causing a mega-tsunami that reached over 100 meters high and killed an estimated 15,000 people.

Image Source: USGS/Wikimedia Commons

23. Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia

Last Erupted: 2018
Type of Volcano: Stratovolcano

In the mountains of Colombia, the Nevado del Ruiz is best known for its 1985 eruption. The eruption created a massive pyroclastic flow and completely buried the city of Almero and its estimated 25,000 inhabitants. While it regularly produces small eruptions, only three in recent history have created highly destructive lava and debris flows.

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22. Mount Pelée, Martinique

Last Erupted: 1932
Type of Volcano: Stratovolcano

While not as famous as many of the volcanoes on this list, its 1902 eruption completely leveled the city of Saint-Pierre, which had a population of roughly 30,000 with only two survivors. After rumbling for days, the people of Saint-Pierre still saw no reason to evacuate and on May 8, 1902, a massive horizontal pyroclastic surge shot out of the side of the mountain and rolled into Saint Pierre at approximately 400 miles per hour.

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21. Mount Merapi, Central Java Island, Indonesia

Last Erupted: 2018
Type of Volcano: Stratovolcano

Known to the locals as Mountain of Fire, Mount Merapi erupted earlier this year and shows no signs of cooling down anytime soon. As a member of the Pacific Ring of Fire, this super active volcano has had minor eruptions every few years and major eruptions every 12-15. In addition, these huge eruptions have been recorded since 1006, and rarely does a century go by without it dramatically changing the landscape of the region. Hundreds of villages and thousands of lives have been claimed by this Mountain of Fire.

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20. Mt. Fuji, Japan

Last Erupted: 1708
Type of Volcano: Stratovolcano

While Mt. Fuji is best known for its place in Japanese culture and its almost perfectly symmetrical cone shape, it is also a volcano that might be due for a massive eruption. Since its last eruption at the beginning of the 18th century, Mt. Fuji has been steadily building steady pressure. Now being closely monitored, scientists believe another Mt. Fuji eruption is imminent.

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19. Mount Agung, Bali, Indonesia

Last Erupted: 2018
Type of Volcano: Stratovolcano

As the highest point on the island of Bali, Mount Agung affects everything from the climate of the island to the early beliefs of the Balinese. While it is currently erupting, it has not had a major eruption since 1964, which caused massive destruction and killed between 1,100 and 1,500 people. That eruption was one of the largest in Indonesian history, and flattened entire villages with large pyroclastic flows.

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18. Mount Pinatubo, Philippines

Last Erupted: 1991
Type of Volcano: Stratovolcano

Mount Pinatubo’s massive eruption in 1991 was the second largest eruption in the 20th century, and blasted volcanic material 21 miles into the atmosphere. It created a colossal avalanche of volcanic material that killed approximately 800 people and devastated the surrounding areas, displacing 20,000. In addition, 17 megatons of carbon dioxide have been emitted over the course of the eruptions.

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17. Mt. Rainer, Washington, United States

Last Erupted: 1894
Type of Volcano: Stratovolcano

Sitting ominously outside of the heavily populated Seattle, Washington metropolitan area, a large scale Mt. Rainer eruption could be catastrophic to the region. Historically, Mt. Rainer has created massive volcanic debris avalanches that have reached all the way to Puget Sound, almost 30 miles away. Currently, it is listed as one of the 16 Decade Volcanoes that have a high likelihood of causing massive destruction and potential loss of life.

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16. Mt. St. Helens, Washington, United States

Last Erupted: 2008
Type of Volcano: Stratovolcano

As one of the largest and most remarkable eruptions in recent United States history, memories of the wreckage from Mt. St. Helens’ 1980 eruption are still fresh in the minds of many in the Pacific Northwest. That eruption is still the most deadly and destructive volcanic eruption in the history of the United States. Countless structures, railways, bridges, and an astonishing 185 miles of highways were destroyed by this eruption. Tragically, 57 people also lost their lives during this eruption.

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15. Mount Etna, Italy

Last Erupted: 2012
Type of Volcano: Stratovolcano

On the Eastern Coast of Sicily, Mount Etna is Europe’s largest active volcano.  Looming ominously over the Metropolitan City of Catania and its population of 1.1 million people, this very active volcano could erupt again at any time. In 1669, molten magma broke through Catania’s walls and obliterated a large section of the city.

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14. Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland

Last Erupted: 2010
Type of Volcano: Stratovolcano

The most recent major volcanic eruption in 2010 caused the largest air travel disruption in Northern Europe since WWII. As one of 25 active volcanoes on Iceland, it is both at the center of the country’s tourism efforts, and one of its greatest risks to the 350,000 island inhabitants.

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13. Kilauea, Hawaii

Last Erupted: 2018
Type of Volcano: Shield

Kilauea has a long history of active eruptions and it means “spewing” or “much spreading” in the Hawaiian language. In early May 2018, Kilauea had a number of powerful earthquakes causing a number of fissures to open, leading to evacuations on a portion of the island. In addition, an explosive eruption occurred at Halemaʻumaʻu, creating a plume of ash 30,000 feet into the air.

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12. Apoyeque, Nicaragua

Last Erupted: 50 BC
Volcano Type: Pyroclastic Shield

Apoyeque’s last eruption in 50 BC was one of the largest explosions in history and it had a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 6. It has been identified as a particularly dangerous volcano, due to its history of major eruptions separated by 2,000 years, its proximity to Managua (the Nicaraguan capital), and the risks of generating lake tsunamis.

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11. Mount Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of Congo

Last Erupted: 2002
Volcano Type: Stratovolcano

Between the years of 1894 and 1977, Mount Nyiragongo contained an active lava lake. In early 1977, the crater walls fractured and lava flowed down the banks at 60 km/h, the fastest ever recorded. Nyiragongo’s unique characteristics and proximity to heavily populated areas make it especially dangerous.

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10. Iwo Jima, Japan

Last Erupted: 2001
Volcano Type: Stratovolcano

In addition to Iwo Jima’s importance to the Pacific theater of WWII, it is also one of the most dangerous active volcanoes in the world. Experts said that there may be a 1 in 3 chance that this big eruption will come this century, and has the potential to cause a major tsunami that could decimate the Japanese coastline.

Image Source: U.S. Navy/Wikimedia Commons

9. Taal Volcano, Philippines

Last Erupted: 2011
Volcano Type: Complex

The Taal volcano has had several violent eruptions in the past, causing loss of life on the island and the populated areas surrounding the lake, with the death toll estimated at around 5,000 to 6,000. Because of its proximity to populated areas and its eruptive history, the volcano was designated a Decade Volcano, worthy of close study to prevent future natural disasters.

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8. Ilopango, El Salvador

Last Erupted: 1880
Volcano Type: Crater

The Ilopango crater last collapsed around 500 AD and produced pyroclastic flows that decimated Mayan villages and produced an eruption roughly 20 times bigger than Mount St. Helens. The ash cloud fallout from this event covered 10,000 square miles and caused extreme weather events for years.

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7. Aira Caldera, Japan

Last Erupted: 2010
Volcano Type: Caldera

The Aira Caldera had massive eruptions approximately 22,000 years ago and has had a half dozen eruptions of VEI 4, 5 and 6 since then. With a number of smaller eruptions over the last decade, it poses a significant threat to the 2.6 million people that live within 100 km.

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6. Mount Vesuvius, Italy

Last erupted: 1944
Volcano Type: Somma-stratovolcano

Mount Vesuvius is best known for its major eruption in 79 AD that destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. That eruption killed more than 1,000 people, and the only surviving eyewitness account of the event was captured in two letters by Pliny the Younger. Its proximity to the current city of Naples makes it the most densely populated volcanic area.

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5. Santa Maria, Guatemala

Last Erupted: 2016
Volcano Type: Stratovolcano

Santa Maria is a large active volcano in the highlands of GuatemalaIa, best known for its most active vent, Santiaguito. In 1902, Santa Maria had a major VEI 6 eruption that was one of the largest in the 20th century. At least 5,000 people died directly from the eruption, and volcanic ash traveled as far as San Francisco.

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4. Popocatépetl, Mexico

Last Erupted: 2017
Volcano Type: Stratovolcano

Popocatépetl is the most active volcano in Mexico, having had more than 15 major eruptions since the 1500s. Popocatépetl is currently active after being dormant for about half of the last century, and since 1993, smoke can be seen constantly emanating from the crater. In March of 2016, an ash column 2,000 meters high was released, prompting the establishment of a 12-kilometer “security ring” around the summit.

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3. Mount Paektu, China

Last Erupted: 1903
Volcano Type: Stratovolcano

Mount Paektu has a large cone and a caldera that was created in 946 by the colossal VEI 7 eruption. This volcano erupts every 100 years or so, and appears due for another violent eruption. Its proximity to cities on the Korean Peninsula make its looming eruption a possible major disaster.

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2. Campi Flegrei, Italy

Last Erupted: 2016
Volcano Type: Caldera

The Campi Flegrei is a restless caldera with a recent history of large eruptions with proximity to 6 million people living in the region. In addition, since it is partially under the Bay of Naples, there is a potential major tsunami danger to the region.

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1. Krakatoa, Indonesia

Last Erupted: 2017
Volcano Type: Caldera

Krakatoa is a volcanic island situated between the Java and Sumatra islands of Indonesia. The major 1883 eruption was among the most violent volcanic events in recorded history. Of the 136 local towns, 132 were significantly damaged and 36,000 people lost their lives from the eruption and subsequent tsunamis.

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