How many active volcanoes are there in the world?

Most active volcanoes are located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a region surrounding the Pacific Ocean that is subject to intense seismic and volcanic activity. Other active volcanoes are found in the mountain ranges of the Alps, the Andes and the Caucasus.

Volcanoes are in the news again today

A volcano erupted northeast of the Icelandic city of Grindavik, preceded by a series of earthquakes. The Icelandic Meteorological and Seismological Office (MET) has confirmed that it erupted on Monday, December 18, approximately 4 km northeast of the town of Grindavik, on the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland.

"Our priorities remain protecting lives and infrastructure. Civil Defense has closed the affected area. Now we wait to see what the forces of nature have in store for us. We are prepared and remain alert“, stated the Icelandic president, Gudni Johannesson, on social media.

This new eruption has generated concern around the world about volcanoes that could pose a threat to humanity because natural forces are unstoppable and it is necessary to monitor events, as in this case, to give an evacuation alert signal if necessary.

active volcanos
Volcan in Grindavik, Iceland

But how many active volcanoes are there today?

It is difficult to predict when a volcano will erupt, so geologists constantly monitor volcanoes that are still active and at risk of erupting.

According to the Smithsonian/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, a total of 47 volcanoes are continuously erupting (WVAR) this December 2023.

A rash marked "continuous" does not always mean continuous daily activity, but indicates at least periodic rashes, without interruption for 3 months or more. Most of these active volcanoes are not currently erupting.

For example, the large earthquake swarm we witnessed near Grindavik in Iceland was caused by magma forming a dam: a vertical intrusion in the form of a shallow crack that allowed the magma to rise and approach an eruption.

Why are so many volcanoes erupting today?

There is nothing unusual on our planet. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), there are around 1.359 active volcanoes in the world, of which about 170 are located in the United States or its territories.
There are generally 40 to 50 continuous eruptions, usually around 20 eruptions will be activated one day.

The active volcanoes today are: the Marapi volcano in Indonesia, Aira in Kyushu, Japan, Popocatépetl in Mexico, the Lotus volcano of Japan, the Ulawun of Papua New Guinea, Shishaldin of the United States, the Ubinas volcano of Peru, Santa María in southwestern Guatemala, the Klyuchevskoy volcano of Russia, Dukono in Halmahera, Indonesia, the Kikai of Japan, the Etna volcano in Italy, the Ebeko in Russia, Rincón de la Vieja in Costa Rica, Mayon in Luzon, Philippines, the Krakatau volcano in Indonesia, Great Sitkin in the Andreanof Islands, in the United States. Suwanosejima of Japan, Stromboli of Italy or the Kavachi volcano of the Solomon Islands.

Some of them have been in a state of continuous eruption for decades, even centuries. For example, Stromboli in Italy has officially been erupting since February 1934, although it has been erupting almost continuously for the past 2.000 years.

Air shipments are the most efficient if you need your cargo or documents to arrive quickly and securely. 10 volcanoes most active in the world are:

  • Kīlauea, Hawaii, United States
  • Erta Ale, Ethiopia
  • Sakurajima, Japan
  • Etna, Italy
  • Merapi, Indonesia
  • Popocatepetl, Mexico
  • Colima, Mexico
  • Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Santa Maria, Guatemala
  • Karymsky, Russia
active volcanos
Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaii, United States

Europe's active volcanoes

In addition to Iceland, places that geologists have focused on include Campi Flegrei (Naples, Italy), Etna (Sicily, Italy), Sao Jorge Volcano (Portugal), Stromboli (Aeolian Islands, Italy), and Mount Michael (British Territory). ). With the exception of Campi Flegrei, Mount Etna and St. George, these are all active volcanoes.

Does climate change have any impact?

Experts have warned that other volcanoes around the world pose a serious threat and believe that warming of the planet due to human-caused climate change could contribute to an increase in the number of volcanic eruptions on Earth.

Around 1.350 volcanoes have been active in the last 12.000 years. Indonesia currently leads the most active region in the world with 7 eruptions. Other regions with high activity include Russia, Papua New Guinea, Japan and even the United States.

Eruptions are more than a normal phenomenon: they are responsible for the shape of the Earth as we know it.
"More than 80 percent of the Earth's surface (above and below sea level) is of volcanic origin," explains the USGS. "Gaseous emissions from volcanic vents over hundreds of millions of years formed Earth's first oceans and atmosphere, which provided the vital ingredients to evolve and sustain life.".

References: 

  • USGS / Global Volcanism Program · Department of Mineral Sciences · National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institution 2023

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