Volcanoes have always been quite an attraction for people because of their rare formation. But the locals around the volcanoes would disagree with this statement. On the contrary, they prefer to stay away from active volcanoes as much as possible.
Currently, there are more than 1,350 active volcanoes around the world. But which state do you think hosts the most? Also, do you think all these active volcanoes are in the United States? Keep reading to find out more.
What Is an Active Volcano?
An active volcano refers to a volcano that is erupting or has the potential to erupt in the future. But for a volcano to be considered active, a few conditions must be met. First, it should have erupted in the last 10,000 years, also known as the Holocene times in the scientific world. In addition, an erupting or an active volcano can manifest a few indications, like an unusual earthquake or signs of new gas emissions.
How Many Active Volcanoes Are There?
There are more than 1,350 active volcanoes around the world. And this is just a number above the Earth’s surface. Around a million volcanoes are situated underwater, known as submarine volcanoes. Only 500 have been known to be active volcanoes among this vast number.
A belt of volcanoes is referred to as the Pacific Ring of Fire. It is a horseshoe-shaped belt that carries most of the volcanoes and is situated near the Pacific Ocean. On top of this, more than 500 million people are located near this belt. Granted, they are not all active volcanoes, but the threat remains.
In the United States, there are around 160 active volcanoes, making it the leading country to have the most active volcanoes. While most are located away from the population, not all are in remote areas, which could severely threaten the population.
Another country with the most active volcanoes is Indonesia, with around 130 in number. But the exciting part is that it hosts the largest supervolcano, a volcano that has the Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8. That is huge, but luckily the eruption was in the past.
Which State Has the Most Active Volcanoes?
Among the vast number of volcanoes present in the United States, most of them are from Alaska. The state hosts around 140 active volcanoes alone. Some of the popular ones that have erupted continuously or are a threat to the human population are below.
Bogoslof Island, also known as Agasagook Island, has a peak elevation of 490 feet. Most of the island is submerged underwater but rises around 6000 feet above the seabed. It is spread around 312 acres and does not host any population. However, it tends to erupt and is quite active in that domain.
In the year 2017 alone, there were six eruptions recorded on this volcano. An eruption in 2016 built an ash cloud so large it reached a height of 25000 feet. In addition, many previous eruptions were the source of the emergence of new islands, eventually increasing the island’s area.
The highest peak of the Augustine volcano rests at 4134 feet and is spread around an area of 32.4 square miles. It is situated 174 miles from Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska. Therefore, it does not quite pose any danger to the nearer lands. However, in the eruptions of 1986 and 1976, ash was deposited in Anchorage, disrupting street life to an extent.
Many eruptions were recorded in 2005 and 2006, where ash was seen falling near the inhabited lands. In addition, many explosions and unusual seismic activity were also observed by the scientists.
There are many reports of its eruptions, but the minor ones often go unnoticed since it is located in a remote area. Scientists rely heavily on satellite images to get a hold of what is happening near the volcano. In the period 2009 to 2017, it erupted over eight times. Many flights are vulnerable to this volcano since the airline follows a nearer route. In 2001, the volcano created a 7 miles high ash plume. While back in 1944, the ash plume went as high as 3.69 miles, with various boulders hitting the sea.
This particular volcano is covered in the Fourpeaked Glacier and was dormant for around 10000 years. This was until its notable eruption in the year 2006. Various seismic activity and steam explosions are seen near the glacier. Due to the current unrest condition of the volcano, scientists believe that there is expected activity to arise. This potential eruption may subside back to rest and produce a low eruption or a high eruption with ash plumes and widespread ash fall.
Kasatochi Island stands at the highest point of its elevation at 1031 feet. It does not host any human population. However, before the 2008 eruption, many species, along with plants, were found at the site. Some include sea birds, fishes, arthropods, sponges, and roots.
There was little to no technology to predict the 2008 eruption, but it was a significant one in history. When the eruption happened, the ash plumes went as high as 35000 feet. On top of that, the eruption lasted for a whole day, with various periodic activities going on throughout the timeframe. No deaths were recorded, but scientists could not study the long-term effects of the eruption to date.
Mount Okmok stands tall, with its highest elevation point at nearly 3500 feet. Various lakes known as crater lakes were formed due to the eruption and volcanic activity around the mount. There have been approximately 17 eruptions since the year 1805. However, the one that did significant damage was the eruption of 2008.
The ash plumes went as high as 50000 feet, and the eruption lasted for around five and a half days. As a result, numerous people living near the volcano were heavily affected and were left homeless. In addition, there was low visibility around the area because of the volcanic ash. However, there were no reports of lava.
The Other States With Active Volcanoes
The volcanoes mentioned above are only a few of the massive number of active volcanoes in Alaska. There are many more that you will find spread out across the state. But the other U.S. states host active volcanoes. Here is a brief rundown.
- California – 18 active volcanoes
- Oregon – 17 active volcanoes
- Washington – 7 active volcanoes
- Hawaii – 5 active volcanoes
- Utah – 4 active volcanoes
- Idaho – 4 active volcanoes
Recent Eruptions In The United States
All in all, 48 eruptions were recorded last year. Some of them from the U.S. are listed below.
This volcano is currently still erupting, with activity starting again in January of 2023. There was a brief quiet spell for the next few months and it was back in action for a two-week period in June. This volcano is known to erupt about every two years.
In 2021, the volcano recorded various eruptions, causing 17.5 billion gallons of lava to erupt. In 2019, a water lake replaced a lava lake in Kilauea.
Kilauea erupted two times in 2018. One of the eruptions was in February, and the other took place in April. Throughout the year, there had been trouble near the area. Many earthquakes climbed to 6.9, whereas many nearby villages were destroyed because of the lava.
In September 2021, small seismic activity was recorded in the area. In addition, a low quantity of lava eruptions was also reported by the scientists. However, no deaths or damage occurred.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jesse Stephens/Shutterstock.com
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- World Atlas, Available here: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/which-states-in-the-us-have-most-active-volcanoes.html
- USGS, Available here: https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/how-many-active-volcanoes-are-there-earth#:~:text=There%20are%20about%201%2C350%20potentially,have%20erupted%20in%20historical%20time.
- Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_volcano
- Volcano, Available here: https://volcano.si.edu/volcano.cfm?vn=311120