World's Largest and Deadliest Volcanic Eruptions in History
There are hundreds of volcanoes in the world. Some are active and some are dormant. Most active volcanoes are located in a region called “Pacific Ring of Fire”. Volcanic eruptions are naturally occurring phenomena which can either be beneficial or devastating to human beings. Beneficial because they cool down the Earth and make the land fertile. Destructive because they claim lives and destroy properties.
Kelud, a volcano located in Java, Indonesia, killed a combined total of about 15,115 people during its eruptions in 1586 and 1919. Since, 1000 CE, Kelud had erupted more than 30 times already all of which were large explosive eruptions. It is also known by a variety of names such as Klut, Cloot, Kloet, Kloete, Keloed and Kelut. This volcano is “one of the deadliest in the world”.
2.) Mount Pinatubo
Mount Pinatubo is an inactive volcano for hundreds of years and was awakened in 1991. This volcano, which is about 1,800 meters high, is shared by Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga provinces in Central Luzon, Philippines. Its violent eruption in 1991 was “the largest in the 20th century”, killing more than 500 people, leaving more than 100,000 homeless and erasing on the Philippine map some municipalities of Pampanga.
3.) Nevado del Ruiz
Nevado del Ruiz, a part of the Andean volcanic belt, is a volcano located in Colombia and its 1985 eruption was the “second deadliest in the 20th century”. Based on gathered information, this very violent eruption killed about 25,000 people. This deadly volcano is approximately 5,400 meters in height.
3.) Mount St Helens
Mount St Helens, a 3,350 meters tall volcano, is located in Washington, USA. This lovely volcano is among the most popular in the world. Its 1980 eruption, which was largely photographed, is “one of the most powerful in history”. Although the number of casualties was limited to 60 people, its violent eruption caused devastation to the Cascade region.
Paricutin is a volcano found in Mexico. This volcano first erupted from a flat cornfield and then grew each and every year. It now stands at a height of 2,800 meters. Its eruption in 1943 is “one of the most powerful in history”.
6.) Santa Maria Volcano
Santa María Volcano is another killer volcano killing 6,000 people during its 1902 eruption. This massive eruption is “one of the 4 largest eruptions of the 20th century” and one of the 5 biggest eruptions in the last 300 years.
7.) Mount Unzen
Mount Unzen is an active volcanic group of several overlapping stratovolcanoes located in Shimabara City, Nagazaki Prefecture in Japan. It is “one of the world’s deadliest volcanoes” where in 1792, one of its several lava domes collapsed and triggered a tsunami that resulted in the killing of about 15,000 people. This incident was Japan’s worst-ever volcanic-related disaster.
8.) Mount Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius is popular and historic volcano located in Napoli, Italy. This 1,300 meter tall active volcano’s most notable eruption occurred during the height of the Roman Empire in 79 CE. This violent eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried the nearby towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii and killed about 25,000 people. These towns were excavated after hundreds of years and provided valuable and important information on how people lived during those times. This volcano is “one of the deadliest in the world”.
9.) Mount Pelee
Martinique is a beautiful island country located in the West Indies. Mount Pelee, a volcano with a height of 1,375 meters, is “one of the most violent volcanoes in the world” located in Martinique. Its eruption in 1902 is one of the deadliest in history killing about 40,000 people and destroyed million worth of properties.
10.) Krakatau or Krakatoa
Krakatau, which is also known as Krakatoa, is a volcanic island located between Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. This volcano’s 1883 eruption was “one of the most explosive in history”. Its violent and roaring explosion was heard as far as the Philippines. Its ash fell over an area of 800,000 sq km. This historic explosion also created a tsunami and killing about 36,000 people of nearby islands.
11.) Mount Tambora
Another volcano with the most violent eruption in history located in Sumatra, Indonesia is Mount Tambora. This 2,800 meter tall volcano’s eruption in 1815 was “the deadliest in the world” (modern times) – killing approximately 90,000 people. Its enormous ash led to global cooling and summer less years around the world.
12.) Mount Etna
Mount Etna, a beautiful volcano located in Sicily, Italy, created “one of the world’s most violent eruptions in history”. It is Europe’s highest active volcano with an elevation of more than 3,200 meters. The base of this volcano has a circumference of 150 kilometers. Mount Etna’s most violent eruption in 1669 destroyed villages around its base and erased on the map part of the town of Catania.
13.) Mount Katmai
Mount Katmai is a large volcano located in Alaska, USA. The mouth of the volcano, which was created during the 1912 eruption, is about 10 km in diameter. This eruption in 1912 is “one of the two largest eruptions in the world in the 20th century” (the other being Mount Pinatubo in 1991).
Hekla is “one of the most active and largest volcanoes in the world”. With a height of 1,491 meters and with more than 20 eruptions since 874 CE, it has produced one of the largest volumes of lava of any in the world in the last millennium, around 8 km3.
Santorinni is a volcanic island located in the Aegean Sea. Its eruption in 1650 B.C.E. is “one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history”. This enormous and violent eruption wiped out the Minoan civilization on the nearby island of Crete and covered the island with as much as 100 feet of ash. This eruption, which is known as the Thera Eruption, caused a huge number of deaths throughout the region, from Crete to Egypt.
16.) Mount Mazama
Mount Mazama is a volcano located in Oregon, USA. It is seated within Oregon’s most famous landmark – the beautiful Crater Lake which was created as a result of its huge eruption. It is said to be the volcano with the “most catastrophic eruption” that occurred about 4860 BCE. Mount Mazama’s eruption is estimated to have been as much as 42 times more powerful than Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980. If this volcano will erupt once more with the same power, it will surely be a very devastating one.
Laki, a volcanic fissure located in Iceland, created one of the deadliest eruptions in history. Its violent eruption of over an 8 month period during 1783-1784 killed 9,350 in Iceland and has been estimated to have killed over two million people globally, making it the “deadliest volcanic eruption in historical times”. Temperature dropped due to the sulfuric dioxide gases spewed into the northern hemisphere and caused crop failures in Europe, droughts in India, and Japan's worst famine. It is also known as Lakagígar or Craters of Laki.