If you live in the United States you’ve definitely been hearing a lot about Kilauea in the news — a very active volcano located in Hawaii. In the past couple of weeks the volcano has been actively churning, shooting out gas, lava and ash into the sky for weeks, signaling that something was definitely to come. And it did, recently, the volcano had a very explosive eruption, causing destruction of anything and everything in its path. As a result, people living in close proximity to the volcano were forced to evacuate and had to flee, homes and business were destroyed, and the volcano isn’t done just yet, as lava is continuously flowing.
Kilauea isn’t the only volcano in the world to recently erupt. There are countries all over the world that deal with this way more often than not, constantly evacuating and having to rebuild when the lava flow ultimately destroys everything in its path. Many of these volcanoes are constantly erupting, and have been doing so for thousands of years, while others lay dormant, coming to life and destroying nearly everything in its radius at the drop of a hat, every few decades or so.
If you’re a traveler looking to check out some of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes, then look no further than the list below. Be cautious, though, you never know when one of them might come to life.
These are 20 volcanoes that could erupt at anytime without a warning.
20 Kilauea, Hawaii - It's Affecting Residents As We Speak
One of the world’s most active volcanoes has actually been in the news a lot in the past few weeks. Kilauea, located in Hawaii, is the most active of five volcanoes that form the island of Hawaii. This volcano is approximately between 300,000 to 600,000 years old. Since 1983, Kilauea has been actively erupting, and this month, has actively started erupting yet again. In the beginning of May, lava vents were opened, followed by a very strong earthquake. The volcanic activity continued to increase after that event, already destroying houses and other property, before the volcano had even fully erupted. In preparation for the impending eruption, thousands were evacuated from their homes as a precaution. On May 17, the volcano finally had its explosive eruption, and as a result, it spit out ash nearly 30,000 feet in the air.
Since the explosive eruption, more people had to be evacuated, as conditions were not safe air wise, with harmful gases and chemicals in the air. Plus the fact that lava was slowly flowing from the volcano, flowing slowly but surely into houses, businesses, roads, and other structures, destroying pretty much everything in its path. Today, the volcano is still erupting, and many people are fleeing the island, fearing the volcano and its deadly lava flow.
19 Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland - Why You Don't Mess Lava With Ice
Located in Iceland, Eyjafjallajökull is a volcano that is actually an ice cap. In Icelandic it means “island mountain glacier,” and is still very active. The last major eruption was in 2010, and actually caused a lot of havoc in Iceland and surrounding countries. So much steam and ash was sent several miles up into the air with the powerful blasts from the volcano. As a result, the air quality and visibility was so bad between the gases and ash that airplanes were unable to fly, and not just in Iceland, it was across western and northern Europe due to strong winds wings blowing the ash. As a result, multiple countries had to close airspace, affecting thousands of people trying to travel and catch their flights.
Since the volcano is also a glacier, during the huge eruption of 2010, the burning hot lava melted the glacier and all of the ice and snow surrounding it, sending a messy runoff of muddy and ashy water. The runoff flowed down the volcano into rivers and streams, causing them to overflow and cause major, destructive flooding.
There’s been nothing as destructive or powerful since then, but it’s scary just knowing that it could happen at any time!
18 Mount Vesuvius, Italy - It Famously Destroyed Entire Cities
Mount Vesuvius is located in Italy, overlooking the City of Naples. This volcano is perhaps one of the most infamous ones on this list. In 79 AD, its eruption was so bad, that it destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. This infamous eruption killed well over 16,000 people, as entire cities were completely buried in ash and mud. In fact, in history class, you might remember seeing the casts of people from Pompeii in ash from the hot volcanic eruptions. Due to the immense amount of ash and dust in the air, people suffocated, and the blanket of ash preserved their bodies, that we can see in huge detail today.
Although the volcano is very much active, there hasn’t been an eruption since 1944, which caused many problems for allied forces during World War II. As a result, the volcano has had eight major eruptions over the thousands of years it has been active. Although there hasn’t been any of recent, we know that due to its location and past eruption history, any future eruption could be extremely destructive and deadly to the surrounding areas, especially Naples, a bustling city. We will definitely be keeping an eye on this volcano.
17 Mount Erebus, Antarctica - Our Thoughts Are With The Penguins
Antarctica doesn’t seem like a place that would have a volcano, as it’s filled with snow and ice, being one of the coldest places in the world. This volcano is very much active, and has Strombolian eruptions, that are small, but still powerful frequent blasts.
When the volcano was first discovered in 1841, it was in the middle of an eruption, and has had many of them continuously. Since its discovery, the volcano has been extremely active with the Strombolian eruptions. In fact, between 1986 and 1990, there were 200 eruptions alone, which is crazy for just four years! Although the volcano isn’t much of a threat to humans compared to some of the other volcanoes on this list, especially because of its location, we also don’t really have to worry about the polar bears and penguins being swallowed up by lava, either. Research shows that Mount Erebus’ eruptions are not too explosive and destructive. Of course, ash and rock still spreads during the eruptions, and has been found on snow and glaciers miles away, but it is not nearly as bad as Mount Vesuvius, for example, that destroyed entire cities and killed thousands. Well, we’re not very worried about the humans, but we can still worry about the penguins!
16 Manaro Voui, Vanuatu - We're Planning On Staying Far, Far Away
The pacific island of Vanuatu is home to one of the most dangerous active volcanoes in the world. The last eruption was in 2017, and is currently showing signs of erupting again. During 2017’s eruption, nearly all of the island’s people had to be evacuated that lived in close proximity to the volcano. It was a good thing too, as lava flowed, destroying anything in its path. It was reported that nearly everyone had left the island with the exception of about fifteen people. After it was deemed safe to return, the residents of the island resumed back to their normal lives.
Early March of this year, the dangerous volcano started to show signs of an impending eruption yet again. Ash began to fall all over the island, making it hard to see and breathe. Ash and rain are not a good combination - the two mixed together created heavy piles of ash that made roofs collapse and trees fall under the weight.
In preparation, as well as fear for the impending eruption, the island’s government is planning to permanently evacuate the island, as stated in the beginning of May. The volcano is still showing signs of major activity, but has yet to actually erupt. We would like to stay far, far away!
15 Mount Merapi, Indonesia - It's Long Overdue For A Huge Blast
Located on the island of Java, Indonesia, it is one of the most active volcanoes out of Indonesia’s 130 volcanos. Mount Merapi has been regularly erupting for thousands of centuries, and has had some destructive ones in 2006 and 2010. Scientists that have monitored the volcano have noticed that smaller eruptions occur every couple of years while the larger ones happen every ten to fifteen years or more. The last huge eruption that caused mass casualties was in 1930, so it seems like Mount Merapi is way overdue for another huge blast. It seemed as if 2006 would be the year for a big eruption, however, there was a decent amount activity, but nothing too devastating. There were a number of large earthquakes, and thousands of people were evacuated. Luckily, not many people died.
2010 was another year for a big eruption, with more huge earthquakes and lava flows, and thousands were evacuated yet again. Much more destructive than in 2006, almost 200 people died this time around, and the lava flow left nothing but destruction in its path. As a result, this volcano is definitely due for another big eruption, so beware when making the trip to Indonesia to check it out.
14 Galeras, Colombia - Why Would You Enter An Active Volcano Crater?
Galeras is one of the most destructive and deadly volcanoes located in Colombia. It’s really old (over 1 million years) and has frequently erupted during that period of time.
In 1993 the volcano erupted and ended in tragedy. After being dormant for ten years, there was a lot of activity again, starting in 1988.
In 1993, despite the fact that the volcano was currently active, there were several scientists and a few tourists deep in the volcano’s crater exploring. Unfortunately they were very much in the wrong place at the wrong time, as that’s when the volcano decided to finally erupt, killing nearly all of them. There was much debate and speculation about why these scientists were in the crater when they clearly knew that the volcano could potentially erupt at any time.
Since then, there have been numerous eruptions over the years, however nothing really destructive or catastrophic, mainly just ash and seismic activity. When there is a threat, however, locals are usually forced to evacuate as a precaution, but there hasn’t been any casualties. The last major eruption was in 2010, however, it wasn’t destructive at all, and residents were still evacuated as a precaution and returned when deemed safe.
13 Mount Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo - It Destroyed Everything In Its Path
Located in the Virunga Mountains of east-central Africa, Mount Nyiragongo is an absolutely enormous volcano, standing at over 11,000 feet tall. This volcano is extremely deadly, and is actually pretty infamous for its eruptions. In 1977, approximately 2,000 people died due to a lava lake overflowing. There was so much lava in the lake the the flow was faster than normal, traveling for miles and literally destroying everything in its path, killing people, and even burning them alive (how gruesome). The lava traveled so far that it reached nearby Goma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s largest neighboring city. It was catastrophic and devastating to everyone in the surrounding area.
Unlike many of the volcanoes on this list, we don’t know much about Mount Nyiragongo. Do to the political situation, amongst other things the republic struggles with, the volcano hasn’t been studied very much. We don’t know a lot about it, nor do we really know its eruption patterns. It’s still not completely understood why that lava lake burst and overflowed in the first place in 1977. If it was studied more, it might have been able to be prevented. All we can say is definitely take caution around Mount Nyiragongo, it can be a little unpredictable.
12 Stromboli, Italy - They Named A Type Of Eruption After It
Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes not only in Italy, but on the entire planet. Since 1932, it has been constantly erupting, not really stopping, and has been active for nearly 2,000 years.
Compared to other volcanoes, Stromboli has some pretty unique eruptions, where molten rock and lava shoot out of the crater in the form of a jet stream, kind of looking like a fountain. These eruptions are so unique and distinct that scientists have dubbed them “Strombolian eruptions” when describing similar eruptions in other volcanoes.
Stromboli hasn’t had a large, devastating eruption in many years. However, the volcano did begin to erupt in 1932, and hasn’t really stopped since. Stromboli has been continuously erupting for years now, alternating between lava flows and the unique “Strombolian eruptions.” Luckily for residents that live in close proximity to the constantly erupting volcano, it there’s a lava flow it hasn’t been destructive. In fact, it usually flows into the sea, and no one really has had to be worried about it, yet. Whether there’s going to be a big blast in the future or not, we’re not entirely sure. We guess that scientists will just have to keep an eye on it!
11 Sakurajima, Japan - Several Eruptions Before Lunch... No Thanks
Sakurajima is a volcano located in Japan and is known as one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It's constantly showing some signs of activity. It varies from small Strombolian eruptions to ash explosions, always performing some sort of activity. Because of this, scientists have kept a close eye on Sakurajima for centuries, making sure that these smaller eruptions won’t turn into bigger ones that could cause serious problems. One of the most violent eruptions of the modern era was in 1914. There were a number of huge earthquakes along with a lot of lava flow. Thankfully, no one died during the eruption. The most recent explosion was in May of 2017, spilling ash into the air and littering the surrounding area with it. On that day alone there were several small eruptions just before noon alone. This is common for this volcano, as it has been noted that there have been several small eruptions in the span of a few hours. There’s no wonder why scientists keep a close eye on this volcano, as it seems to be a tiny bit unpredictable. We’ll stay far, far away, thank you.
10 Piton de la Fournaise, La Reunion Island - Watch Explosions Without Worry!
Piton de la Fournaise is located on La Reunion Island (located east of Madagascar), and is a very active volcano, so much so that it’s become a bit of a tourist attraction. Over the past few years it’s erupted quite a few times. The most recent eruption was in July of 2017. It began when a crack was formed in the crater, stretching a mile across the island. It also sent toxic gases shooting into the air, as well as landslides and earthquakes. It is noted that eruptions from this volcano have similar lava flows to volcanoes in Hawaii, as they flow down the volcano and slowly move further out. Luckily, when this does happen, the lava flow usually doesn’t cause much destruction, nor does it usually harm people.
This particular volcano’s lava flow usually moves directly toward uninhabited areas, and most of the time it only causes damage to roads and other infrastructure. It is very rare that the lava does flow into populated regions. That is a reason alone why this volcano has become quite the tourist attraction — you can witness an eruption without worrying about any danger. Sound good to us!
9 Taal, Philippines - It's Raining Fire!
Taal is a volcano that is located in the Philippines, just a few miles south of Manila. Much like Piton de la Fournaise, Taal is also a bit of a tourist attraction. It might be considered one of the most dangerous active volcanoes to date, however, that doesn’t stop tourists from climbing up it. Over the years, it has erupted about thirty times, and accounted for the deaths of thousands of people. Fortunately for tourists and anyone else looking to climb the volcano, the last eruption was 1977.
One of the biggest and most catastrophic eruptions that Taal had was in 1911. People woke up startled in the middle of the night to loud booms and the ground shaking, and at first they weren’t sure what it was. The huge eruption sent scalding hot ash, mud, and other gases up into the air, sending it raining down on everyone and everything. As a result, thousands died that day not only because of the scalding hot gases and ash coming from the volcano, but because they were not properly prepared for the eruption and could not evacuate and get away in time. If you’re one for scaling up the side of a volcano, be our guest. We just hope that nothing happens in the near future, and if it should, scientists should be a little more prepared this time around to help out civilians.
8 Mount St. Helens, Washington - Time For Lights Out, Spokane
Mount St. Helens is a famous volcano that’s located in Washington state, USA. For a very long time the volcano was dormant, and showed no signs of activity since 1857. That changed in 1980, when there was an explosive eruption that sent steam miles into the air. Prior to the explosion there was a huge earthquake, followed by a landslide, signaling that the volcano was now very much awake. The avalanche sent mud, rocks and debris for miles.
During the explosion, ash, rock, and other chemicals were sent shooting up miles above the volcano’s peak. It was sent so far up so quickly that Spokane, Washington was in complete darkness, which was hundreds of miles away from the actual volcano’s blast. It was also reported that there was ash falling over other states, and reached as far as Montana.
Unfortunately, there were 57 human casualties due to Mount St. Helens’ eruption, plus thousands of animals due to the extreme amount of ash and rocks. It hasn’t erupted since then, however seismic activity has been recorded over the years. We guess scientists have to keep an eye on this one, and we’ll definitely be staying far away from a blast that huge!
7 Mauna Loa, Hawaii - The Volcano Of All Volcanoes
Hawaii might be dealing with an erupting Kilauea right now, with huge lava flows destroying nearly everything in its path. However the state is also home to Mauna Loa, which is the world’s largest volcano.
This volcano stands a whopping 13,677 feet above sea level and takes up about half of the island’s area. Needless to say, this volcano is an absolute monster, and we’re already worried about what could potentially happen during an eruption.
Over the years, it’s had quite a few eruptions, however nothing as catastrophic or detrimental compared to some of the other volcanoes on this list. Many of the eruptions are confined, however in 1935 and 1942, there were slightly bigger eruptions that posed a threat to Hilo, a city in Hawaii. The military actually tried to divert the lava flows by dropping bombs, which actually worked to an extent. In 1950 there was another large eruption, however this time a small village could not escape the wrath of Mauna Loa. There haven’t been many major eruptions since, the last one being in 1984. Regardless, it would be cool to check out the world’s largest volcano, for sure.
6 Mount Cleveland, Alaska - Keep Doing Your Thing, We Don't Mind
Mount Cleveland is located in Alaska, and again, you wouldn’t really associate lava flow with ice. It has been continuously erupting since its discovery, and has had a number of eruptions since 2000. This volcano gives off a lot of ash when it erupts, causing a lot of issue for airplanes trying to fly in the airspace neaby, and any plane traveling between North America and Asia. The ash could do some serious damage to an airplane, and they should stay far away from it.
There’s not a lot of information about the history of Mount Cleveland, as there aren’t many people living around it. There have been several rather large eruptions since scientists really started researching and paying attention to it in the past century. The volcano spews ash, dust and lava like any other volcano, however, it doesn’t pose too much of a threat to humans since there aren’t many in proximity of the volcano. The main reason why it is monitored now is to watch out for air quality to determine if planes are able to fly or not. Other than that, Mount Cleveland just does its thing!
5 Ulawun, Papua New Guinea - A 1000ft Eruption Fountain... Uh, No Thanks
Located in Papua New Guinea, Ulawun is one of the nation's most active and dangerous volcanoes. This volcano has been active for centuries, however, some of its most catastrophic eruptions were in the 1900s. For example, in 1915, ash was spread for miles, due to a blast that was so huge. The ash could be seen in cities that weren’t even relatively close to the actual volcano, posing a threat to them as well. The same thing happened again a few decades later, in 1970, except this one included deadly flows of lava, that destroy everything in their path, no doubt about it.
The 1980 eruption was even bigger, sending lava flows down the volcano that traveled for miles on end, which completely devastated the surrounding area. There was also an eruption column that rose thousands of feet into the air.
Since then, only smaller eruptions have occurred, sending ash and other gases into the air, but no lava flow to worry about at the moment. However, it seems to us that this particular volcano is a little overdue for an impending eruption, as it’s been a few decades since the last major one. We’ll definitely take caution.
4 Santa Maria, Guatemala - Lava Domes May Sound Cool, But Keep Your Distance
Santa Maria is a volcano located in Guatemala and is known for some of the biggest eruptions in recent history. The base of the volcano is home to several lava domes, making the volcano an even bigger threat during an eruption. The domes, which continuously grow, have their own tiny eruptions too, which is no wonder why Santa Maria is such a dangerous volcano. There have been recordings of lava flowing from the volcano for thousands of years all of the way to today. In 1902, Santa Maria erupted, and it was one of the biggest eruptions of the twentieth century, lasting for weeks on end, and still even had some activity months later. Following that, in 1922, one of the domes collapsed, sending lava down the volcano, destroying everything in its path from homes to farms, killing thousands of people in its wake. There have also been more eruptions just like this in the years following, with the most recent one being in 2016. With the domes filled with piping hot lava, we’re going to stay far away from Santa Maria. That’s a chance we really don’t want to take. No thank you!
3 Mount Etna, Italy - 13 Years, That's Gotta Be A Record!
Mount Etna is located in Italy, specifically on the east coast of Sicily. This particular volcano is thousands of years old, and there have been eruptions recorded dating all the way back to 1500 BC. Since the first documented explosion, there have been a couple hundred more eruptions. In 1669 was Mount Etna’s notable eruption that was so huge that lava flowed from the volcano and traveled more than ten miles, destroying everything.
The volcano’s longest eruption was back in 1979. This eruption went on for a whopping thirteen years. These days, the volcano is currently erupting once again. The first signs of eruption started in March of 2007, and has been doing so continuously and has not stopped, to this day.
Hopefully the eruption stays as quiet as it has been for the past decade, we’re really not interested in a ten mile lava flow again. Although, taking a visit might be kind of cool. It’s not every day that you can get that up close and personal with an erupting volcano and live to tell the tale, right? We know all eyes will be on this volcano for many more years to come.
2 Colima, Mexico - Centuries Of Activity That We'd Rather Not Get Too Close To
Colima is a volcano located in Mexico. It has been active for centuries, with data recorded back to the 16th century. In the past couple of years, Colima has been exceptionally active. There were signs of eruptions in January of 2013, continuing for a few years after that. In 2015, there was an extensive amount of ash and lava flows that continued on until 2016. There were also reports of lava domes that were growing along with the huge ash explosions, littering the air. It was even noted that there was significant lava flow during this period as well.
Reports were made that the last ash explosion was in the summer of 2017, but it's been pretty quiet since then. Luckily, it seems that the more recent explosions didn’t really affect the people living nearby. We think it would be cool to check out a volcano this old that’s still erupting on and off, on what seems to be a regular basis. We’ll always be careful though, because you never know when it comes to active volcanoes!
1 Sangay, Ecuador - It's Been Erupting Longer Than Most Of Us Have Been Alive
Located in Ecuador, Sangay is one of the country’s most active volcanoes and has been active for literal centuries. In fact, the earliest recorded eruption from Sangay dates all of the way back to the beginning of the 1600s, and there have been a number of continuous eruptions from then until present time.
These continuous eruptions can last anywhere from decades to centuries, and there’s no real way to tell how long they might last. Back in 1934, the volcano started to erupt yet again and has been doing so continuously up until today, and we’re really not sure when it plans on stopping, or if it ever will.
The volcano hasn’t posed much of a threat. However, in 1976, two people who were hiking up the volcano were struck and killed by falling debris from the eruption. The volcano has also showed a number of Strombolian explosions over the years, and has also spewed up a lot of ash and gases into the air. This volcano would be super interesting to watch, because you never know when it might stop.