Curious Facts : 31 of the Strongest Volcanoes Known To Man

To say that a volcano is devastating would be a curious observation.  Of course it is!  It is a volcano!  On our curious planet alone we have hundreds if not thousands littering the land and seas and they have been erupting for billions of years and they will continue to do so for many more years.  There really isn’t anything we can do to avoid one and as history has taught us, some have shaped our very societies for both the better and worse.  I will not go into great detail of each of these curious and wonderful natural creations but I will simply explain just how curious each is since each one has a curious personality.

I know that these are not all of the volcanoes we know of but I might be encouraged to do a second installment if anyone has more suggestions.  Until then, enjoy curiously!

31. Mount Etna

Location : Sicily, Italy


Etna has erupted over 200 times since 1500 BC.  Some of the lava can be dated to as far back as 300,000 years or more.  This is where scientists have tested robots for Mars (ironic since they thought this was the home of Vulcan and it erupting was him making weapons for Mars) since the atmosphere is similar.

30. Mt. Tambora

Location : Northern Sumbawa island of Indonesia


It is said that when Tambora erupted in 1815, the sound was heard in Sumatra over 1200 miles away.  The smoke from the mountain was seen as far away as Europe and it lead to a summerless year around the world.

29. Ambrym Island

Location : Malampa Province in the archipelago of Vanuatu

Ambrym Island

This island has two very active volcanoes, Mt Benbow and Mt. Marum.  Both are large calderas with flowing and bubbling lava and in order to see them you need permission from the chief.  The island was discovered by Captain Cook and is called the “black island” because of all the volcanic ash.

28. Crater Lake

Location : Oregon, USA


This used to be a volcano called Mount Mazama that collapsed and then became dormant.  The water in the caldera lake is very pure and has a unique friend.  The Old Man In the Lake is a large tree stump that has been curiously bobbing about vertically in the water for almost 200 years without rotting or turning on it’s side.

27. Grimsvotn

Location : South-East Iceland


This glacial volcano is one of the most frequently erupting volcanoes in Iceland and as such it does something rather unique called jökulhlaup, or more simply glacier outburst.  Bacteria has been found for the first time in the mountain’s glacier pool and can help scientists on their search for life on Mars.

26. Siberian Traps

Location : Siberia, Russia

Siberian Traps

A chain of volcanic mountains responsible for one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the last 500 million years.  Supposedly, the volcano erupted continuously for 100 million years!

25. El Chichon

Location : Francisco León, north-western Chiapas, Mexico


Erupting in 1982 after a 700 year lull, this powerful Mexican volcano destroyed 9 villages in its wake and left behind a crater lake filled with acidic water.  Believed to have been dormant, El Chichon was also researched for it’s roll in climate change.

24. Mount Pinatubo

Location : The island of Luzon, near the tripoint of the Philippine provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga

Mount Pinatubo

One of many volcanoes on the Luzon Arc in the Philippines, its eruption in 1991 was the second largest of that century and caused yet another drastic climate change.  The sulfuric acid released into our atmosphere punched a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica.

23. Ilopango

Location : El Salvador


Now a crater lake near San Salvador, the massive eruption of this volcano is attributed to extreme weather changes during the 5th century.  When the caldera collapsed leaving behind the lake, it leveled Mayan cities and created famine for centuries.

22. La Garita Caldera

Location : San Juan Mountains southwestern Colorado, USA

La Garita Caldera

Site of the largest known volcanic eruption in history.  The devastation blast was the size of Colorado and it’s effects yield as far as the Caribbean. Supposedly, the blast was equivalent to 240,000 tons of TNT!

21. Lake Toba

Location : The northern part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra

Lake Toba

This super-volcano is described as “apocalyptic”.  This Indonesian volcano caused a volcanic winter and the ash can be found all over south Asia.  A theory made based on this volcano is of a human bottleneck in which it is genetically proven that there was a sharp decrease of the human population about this time.

20. Changbaishan

Location : between China and North Korea


A less well known volcano due to it’s secluded location it is also China’s most dangerous volcanoes.  Still active, the last eruption was in 1903 and an even stronger eruption happened in the 10th century allowing it the distinction of one of the strongest eruptions in the last 10,000 years.

19. Santa Maria

Location : Western Highlands of Guatemala


Located in the Sierra Madre this volcano helped make Santiaguito, this is the most active lava dome complexes in the world with one in particular, El Caliente which demonstrates minor plumes consistently. In 1902 was categorized as “Colossal” and ash was seen falling on San Francisco.

18. Mt. Thera

Location : Santorini, Greece

Mt. Thera

This volcano inspired Plato’s Atlantis!  During the Bronze Age, this volcano destroyed a Minoan settlement covering it in pumice and debris and caused a tsunami that leveled the island of Crete.

17. Mount St. Helen’s

Location : Washington, USA

Mount St. Helen's

Everyone in America has heard of this one.  St. Helen’s was the sister volcano to Mt. Rainier in Washington state.  The 1980 eruption caused a blanket of ash that stretched around the world within 15 days.  In 3 minutes the lateral blast devastated 230 square miles of forest.

16. Mount Unzen

Location : Nagasaki Prefecture, on the island of Kyūshū, Japan


In 1792, a series of earthquakes moved through this mountain range and shifted the dome on Mt. Unzen, causing it to collapse.  The resulting tsunami was one of the greatest in Japan’s recorded history.  The volcano still remains one of Japan’s most dangerous volcanoes.

15. Mount Yasur

Location : Tanna Island, Vanuatu

Mount Yasur

A volcano which has been erupting continuously for over 800 years!  No, that is all you need to know.  It is amazing!

14. Novarupta

Location : Alaska Peninsula in Katmai National Park and Preserve


The largest volcanic eruption in the 20th century happen in 1912 on this Alaskan peninsula.  The sound of the blast was heard in Juneau (750 miles away) almost an hour after the eruption. The blast was 30 times more powerful than Mt. St. Helen’s.

13. Nevado del Ruiz

Location : Caldas and Tolima in Colombia

Nevado del Ruiz

Columbia’s worst natural disaster.  Due to the volcanic activity not really emphasizing an eruption, little precaution was taken and the loss of life was substantial. The enormous lahars (mud slides from melting snow and debris) was a main factor in some towns being wiped off the map.

12. Lake Taupo Volcano

Location : New Zealand’s North Island


This one volcano is responsible for two of the most violent eruptions in “recent” times. The last time this volcano “hiccuped” was over 5,000 years ago with one of the strongest blasts in the last 200,000 years.

11. Mount Vesuvius

Location : Gulf of Naples, Italy


One of, if not the, most famous volcanic eruption recorded. This is the one that covered Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD and it is the only active volcano left of the European mainland. Since then, it has erupted over 50 times and was last active in 1944.

10. Huaynaputina

Location : southern Peru


Not until 1600 was this volcano even described as a volcano but a low ridge.This was the largest recorded eruptions in South America.  Agriculture took over 150 years to recover from the ash and damage.

9. Olympus Mons

Location : Mars


You really didn’t think the most powerful volcanoes were simply on Earth did you?!  This massive volcano is the largest in our solar system and stands three time higher than Mt. Everest.  It is so large that it sticks out of Mars’ atmosphere!

8. Kilauea

Location : Hawaiian Islands


Yet another very famous volcano in the world is the ever flowing Hawaiian volcano Kilauea.  This young and small volcano has the distinction of being the longest lived volcanic eruption in history having started in 1983 and still spewing lava.

7. Kikai Caldera

Location : Ōsumi Islands of Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan


One of the many volcanoes responsible for forming the islands of Japan this volcano is still active and still trying to form islands.  In 1988 an underwater eruption started bringing what looked like land to the surface but the constant eruptions stopped the formation.  This volcano is responsible for one of the most devastating eruptions in the 15th century and made Kyushu uninhabitable for some centuries.

6. Mount Pelee

Location : Martinique in the Lesser Antilles island

Mount Pelee

The worst volcanic disaster of the 20th century.  Mt. Pelee rumbled for almost 2 years before finally speaking up.  The town of Saint-Pierre, with a population of just over 30,000 people, took the brunt of the blast.  Only a reported 2 people survived. The volcano is likely to erupt again.

5. Paricutin

Location : the Mexican state of Michoacán


Voted one of the seven natural wonders because mankind got to witness its “birth” this volcano was last active in 1952.  The volcano started as a fissure in a cornfield and bulged out towards the sky. Scientists believe that this volcano unique in that once it finishes erupting it will never erupt again.

4. Yellowstone Caldera

Location : Wyoming, USA


One of the largest known volcanoes on Earth, Yellowstone seems unassuming.  It is classified as a super-volcano and normally erupts every 650,000 years which devastates the landscape and shapes global climate.  Technically, the entire park is one large caldera which is why it has vents of steams and geysers such as Old Faithful.

3. Pacana Caldera

Location : La Pacana Complex in the Antofagasta Region, of northern Chile

Pacana Caldera

This is a resurgent caldera which means it’s caldera is pushed up, not with magma but from the pressure of a magma chamber underneath it.  Pacana is the most important caldera in the La Pacana complex in Chile.  The size of the caldera is 43 miles by 22 miles and is what is left over from a massive eruption 4 million years ago.

2. Krakatoa

Location : the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia


The 1883 eruption destroyed over 2/3 of the island of Krakatoa and a documented 36,417 people were killed and many more injured.  The blast from Krakatoa was 13,000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.  The shock wave itself reverberated around Earth seven times and the sound so loud that if anyone had been within 10 miles of the blast they would have gone deaf.

1. Ra Patera

Location : Io, one of the moons of Jupiter

Ra Patera

Another one of those volcanoes not on Earth, this little monster can eject lava and chemicals over 200 miles into space!  The lava flows around the volcano make it worth noting since it is the only one on Io to have that.  We don’t really know a whole lot about them but what we do know is that when it does erupt, it gives us quite a show!


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