The term volcano is directly stemming from the name, ‘Vulcano,’ a volcanic island in the Aeolian islands of Italy, which in-turn has its name rooted from the word ‘Vulcan,’ meaning ‘God of Fire’ in Roman mythology. A volcano bringing out the earth’s interior materials to the surface level, in the form of ash, lava and gases is the effect of a volcanic eruption. This has attracted geologists to study the erupted materials in order to gain insights on the earth’s inner matter. The study of volcanoes by these geologists is called volcanology.
A volcanologist studies the eruptive activities, formation of volcanoes as well as collect the materials from the eruption to understand and predict the next eruption in order to manage disasters and corresponding earthquakes.
A volcano is a rupture in the earth’s surface, on the crust layer, that allows the escape of lava, volcanic ash and gases from a magma chamber in the earth’s inner layers. An active volcano is a type of volcano that has erupted at least once in the last 10,000 years. A currently erupting volcano is categorized as an active volcano whereas the one bound to erupt in the near future is a dormant type of active volcano. The distinction varies since the lifespan of the volcanoes can spread from months to several million years, but it is largely the underneath activity in the earth’s interior, that helps define the kind of volcano and predict its eruption to a certain level.
The presence of volcanoes is largely found in the converging or diverging plate tectonics of the earth, which float on the softer and hotter layer of mantle. These are due to the breaking of the earth’s crust as well as its stretching and thinning. These volcanic rich regions are called the hotspots of the earth. There are approximately 500 volcanoes on the earth’s surface. Hence, there arises a need to learn a few of the active volcanoes to understand their composition, type and understand the properties of these volcanoes and its eruptions.
The few of the most active volcanoes on the earth’s surface are:
- Barren Island (India): Recognized as the only active volcano in the South Asia region, it is an island located in the Andaman Sea and falls under the Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It first erupted in 1787, the volcano has erupted additionally ten times, with the latest eruption reported in 1991, lasting for 6 months. True to its name, the region is uninhabited and possess no significant vegetation. The volcano is a cinder cone with a 1.2 miles diameter caldera, and is a composite type of volcano. These are made by the accumulation of the materials during the many eruptions over its life span.
- Erta Ale (Ethiopia): Comprising of a persistent lava lake, the Erta Ale, is the most active volcano in the Afar region of Ethiopia. With several reported eruptions, the volcano has been regularly erupting since the 1960s. It is an isolated ballistic shield volcano with 31 miles wide base, rising from more than 1,968 feet below the sea level in the barren Danakil depression. Termed as “the gateway to hell” by the locals, the Erta Ale means ‘Smoking Mountain’, whose latest eruption in 2005 claimed livestock and forced other to flee the area.
- Mount Kilauea (Hawaii): This currently active shield volcano,is one of the most active of the five volcanoes, that together form the island of Hawaii. Dating back to 3000,000 and 600,000 years, it is one of the youngest products of the Hawaiian hotspot. The shield volcano has been active in nature, since 1918. It features a large summit caldera, measuring 2.5 by 2.0 miles, which is believed to be relatively recent. The latest eruption was reported in May, 2018, resulting in hundreds of minor earthquakes been experienced in the region and a 6.9 magnitude earthquake, destroying nearly 650 houses.
- Mount Erebus (Antarctica): Currently the most active volcano in Antarctica and the second highest in the region, it is located in New Zealand’s Ross Dependency on Ross Island, which is also home to three other inactive volcanoes. Classified as a stratovolcano, t is of shield type at the bottom half and strata-cone on the top half. The summit also contains a phonolitic lake, which is one of the five long-lasting lava lakes on the planet. The discovery of the Mount Erebus was made in 1841, while erupting, whereas the lava lake in the summit was first reported in 1972, and have been said to be continuously active ever since.
- Mount Etna (Italy): Lying above the convergent plate margin between the African plate and the Eurasian plate, it is the highest active volcano in Europe outside the Caucasus and the highest peak in Italy, South of Alps. It is largely uninhabited with a majestic base of 87 miles. Being in an almost constant state of activity, it is a composite volcano with a vast space supporting endemic flora and fauna. Being designated as a ‘Decade Volcano’, by the United Nation, it was also added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, in 2013. The recent eruptions can be tracked to 1928, swallowing the village of Mascali, almost entirely in two days. Also, the eruption of 2018 was characterized by gas emissions at the summit crater and Strombolian activity
Below lying table mentions the most active volcanoes and their locations:
|Barren Island||Andaman and Nicobar Islands||India|
|Erta Ale||Afar Region||Ethiopia|
|Vilcan de Fuego||Central America||Guatemala|
|Heard Island and McDonald Islands||Antarctic||Australia|
|Kilauea||U.S. Hawaiian Island||Hawaii|
|Lakagigar ( Craters of Laki)||North Atlantic||Iceland|
|La Palma||Canary Islands||Spain|
|Loihi||U.S. Hawaiian Island||Hawaii|
|Mount Erebus||Antarctica||New Zealand|
|Mount Etna||Sicily,Mediterranean Sea||Italy|
|Soufrière Hills||Caribbean||Montserrat (UK)|
|Mount Teide||Canary Islands||Spain|
|Mount Vesuvius||Gulf of Naples||Italy|
|Mount Sinabung||North Sumatra||Indonesia|
|Ambrym||Malampa Province||Republic of Vanuatu|
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