Outstanding volcanoes of the world
Below are listed selected volcanoes of the world. Volcanoes are arranged by the part of the world and in an alphabetic order:
- Erta Ale – Ethiopia, Afar. One of the most active volcanos in the world, with constant lava lake (sometimes two lakes) in the crater, known since 1906. None of the other known lava lakes in the world have such a long lifetime.
- Mount Cameroon – Cameroon, Southwest. Possibly the oldest still-active volcano in the world which has been active for 30 million years at least. This enormous mountain rises 4 040 m from the ocean and is located over one of the largest known reservoirs of magma.
- Mount Kilimanjaro – Tanzania, Kilimanjaro. Largest free standing volcanic mass in the world, highest mountain in Africa, 5,895 m high. Volcano rises 4,877 m above the surrounding plain. Summit has permanent glacier, which is quickly disappearing. Mount Kilimanjaro includes several unique ecosystems, such as the highest cloud forest in Africa at 4,100 m height and stands of Dendrosenecio plants.
- Mount Nyiragongo – Congo DR, Nord-Kivu. One of the few volcanoes in the world with a nearly permanent lava lake in it, often the largest lava lake in the world. The height of the mountain – 3,470 m. The depth of lava lake has reached up to 600 m. The volcano is very active, with frequent eruptions. Eruptions produce very fluid lava of rare type. The speed of lava flows here can reach 60 km/h and the volcano is very steep. When the walls of the volcano are fractured, lava flows can become very dangerous, as happened in January 1977 and January 2002.
- Ngorongoro Crater – Tanzania, Arusha. Largest volcanic caldera in the world, up to 610 m deep and 260 km² large. Area of exceptional concentration of wild animals, with 25,000 large animals living in the crater.
- Nyamuragira Volcano – Congo DR, Nord-Kivu. The most active volcano in Africa which contains an intermittent lava lake which seems to become more stable and permanent.
- Ol Doinyo Lengai – Tanzania, Arusha. The only known carbonatite volcano in the world (except for the neighboring Kerimasi volcano). Volcano produces natrocarbonatite lava with nearly unique minerals – nyerereite and gregoryite. Lava flows at very low temperature at 500 – 600 °C. Carbonates react with moisture of atmosphere and quickly turn white, creating unique volcanic landscape. Here in steep cone has been observed formation of a new, nearly unique lava cave with enormous stalactites made of fragile natrocarbonatite.
- Piton de la Fournaise – Reunion. One of the most active volcanoes in the world, erupted more than 100 times since 1640. Impressive, deep caldera – Enclos Fouqué. Interesting is smaller crater inside – Formica Leo, resembling sand formations by antlions. Flows of basalt lava sometimes reach the ocean.
- Suswa Volcano – Kenya, Rift Valley Province. Volcano with unique double crater – it resembles a mountain with deep pressed ring around its summit. The isolated inner summit is covered with dry bush – forest. Fumaroles are observed here. Volcano has more than 30 interesting lava tube obsidian caves.
- Trou au Natron – Chad, Tibesti. Volcano with grandiose caldera – 8 km wide and 1 km deep, with mostly vertical walls. One the base of caldera there is visually interesting, symmetrical ash cone and crater lake. Dark ash cone is contrasting with nearly white carbonate salts around it.
- Mount Asphyxia (Mount Curry) – South Sandwich Islands, Zavodovski Island. A volcano which rises 550 m tall. Often emits suffocating fumes, what together with penguin guano creates an unbearable stench.
- Mount Erebus – Antarctica, Ross Island. The southernmost active volcano in the world with many unusual features. Contains one of the few constant glowing lava lakes in the world.
- McDonald Islands – Heard and McDonald Islands. An active volcano, at least 230 m high. The interesting feature of this volcano is that over the last decades it has turned two of the McDonald Islands into a single island. Through the eruptions the area and height of the main island increased, connecting it with Flat Island.
- Mount Michael – South Sandwich Islands, Saunders Island. An active volcano on this small, glacier-covered island. Its 0.7 km wide crater in 2002 – 2006, and, possibly, up to this day contains one of the few active lava lakes in the world.
- Atlasov Island – Russia, Sakhalin Oblast, Kuril islands. Beautiful volcano (Alaid), which rises from the sea 2,339 m tall and has a perfect cone shaped form.
- Ebeko – Russia, Sakhalin Oblast, Kuril islands. 1,156 m tall volcano which contains green lake of acid.
- Kawah Ijen – Indonesia, East Java. Turquoise colored, extremely acid lake with a diameter of 1 km. Acidity – 0.5 pH. Nearly pure deposits of sulfur are located in caldera. The burning sulfuric gas creates very impressive blue flame in the night.
- Kelimutu crater lakes (Keli Mutu) – Indonesia, East Nusa Tenggara, Flores. System of three closely located crater lakes. Each of the lakes has different, changing color – from bright red to green and blue.
- Klyuchevskaya Sopka – Russia, Kamchatka Krai. 4,750 m high volcano with fine, conical form.
- Krakatau (Krakatoa) – Indonesia, Banten. Famous volcano – it erupted violently in 1883, affecting the global climate. Unique natural laboratory where can be observed fast renovation of ecosystem after full elimination.
- Kronotsky – Russia, Kamchatka Krai. 3,527 m tall volcano with symmetrical conical form.
- Maly Semiachik – Russia, Kamchatka Krai. 1,560 m tall volcano with 500 metre wide, light green, acid lake.
- Mayon Volcano – Philippines, Albay. This 2 463 m high volcano has got perfectly conical, almost symmetrical form. It has erupted 48 times in historical times.
- Mount Fuji – Japan, Chūbu. Symbol of Japan, highest mountain in the country, 3,776 m high. This volcano has nearly perfect symmetrical form and has provided inspiration for many works of art.
- Nakadake Crater Lake (Yudamari) – Japan, Kyūshū. Crater lake with lake, which contains very acidic (from less than 0.5 to 1.7 pH), 50 – 70 °C hot water. Lake water changes color over the time from almost white and azure to emerald green. Lake is sacred, it is located in Aso caldera – one of the largest volcanic calderas in the world, 25 by 18 km large.
- Patomskiy Crater (Kolpakova Cone) – Russia, Irkutsk Oblast. Unusual crater – up to 40 m tall and 160 m wide mound/ring of limestone blocks with a smaller mound inside. Most likely it was created by gaseous eruption some centuries ago.
- Shōwa-shinzan – Japan, Hokkaidō. Volcanic lava dome which rised from the wheat fields in 1944 – 1945. Now the mountain is 398 m high and is smoking.
- Taal Volcano and Taal Lake – Philippines, Batangas. Taal is active volcano, 400 m high. Unusual feature is the fact that there is a lake on island (Luzon), with a summit of volcano as island in this lake and crater lake in the middle of this volcano with small island in it. Picturesque landscape. Since the 1990s there have been observed several geysers and mud geysers which are not permanent but rather are signalling about increased activity of volcano. In Taal Lake lives the only freshwater sardine in the world (Sardinella tawilis) and the only freshwater seasnake (Hydrophis semperi) and many other endemic species.
- Brennisteinsalda – Iceland, Suðurland. 855 m tall volcano with ground in almost all colors – white, yellow, red, black, green.
- Laki fissure vent – Iceland, Suðurland. Volcanic fissure – a clearly visible fissure which in 1783 – 1784 was the site of one of the largest and most destructive eruptions in modern times. Eruption was coming simultaneously from 130 craters.
- Maelifell – Iceland, Suðurland. Unusual and picturesque volcano – a moss covered, 200 m tall cone rising from the grey lava fields.
- Surtsey – Iceland, Suðurland. New volcanic island, which rised from the ocean in 1963 – 1967. The island is pristine and serves as a natural laboratory where the colonisation process of plant and animal life is researched. The area of the island is decreasing.
- Viti crater lake – Iceland, Norðurland eystra. Explosion crater at the summit of Askja volcano, filled with light blue, opaque geothermal lake. Lake water is warm and rich with carbon dioxide.
- Benbow lava lakes, Marum lava lakes and Ambrym volcano acid rain – Vanuatu, Malampa, Ambrym island. In these closely located craters very often are observed nearly permanent, violently boiling lava lakes. Benbow crater is spectacular, very deep hole with vertical walls. Acid rain formed by the gases from craters has burned approximately 100 km² large plain in the jungle of Vanuatu. Here live specially adapted organisms – insects, orchids.
- Curtis Island Volcano – Kermadec Islands, Curtis Island. This small (500 x 800 m, 137 m high) island represents a summit of active volcano with fumaroles. Crater of this volcano is located approximately 10 m above the sea level. Island is quickly rising – it rised 7 m between 1929 and 1964. Almost every day here are earthquakes.
- Daikoku Sulfur Cauldron – Northern Mariana Islands. Submarine volcano north from Farallon de Pajaros. A unique pool of liquid sulfur, one of the few in the world.
- East Diamante Volcano Black Forest – Northern Mariana Islands. Submarine volcano between Anatahan and Saipan. A group of more than 50 sulfide mineral chimneys, emitting a metal rich, hot solution. The tallest chimneys are up to 9 m tall.
- Home Reef – Tonga, Vava’u. Ephemeral volcanic island, which after eruptions rises above the sea and then is washed away. Last time such event took place in 2006, when the island became 0.5 by 1.5 km large, with hot crater lakes on it. There are several more such ephemeral islands in Tonga.
- Kavachi – Solomon Islands, Western Province. Unusual, very active submarine volcano. Since the first sighting in 1939 it has risen above the sea level at least eight times and then eroded back.
- Halemaumau Crater with lava lake, Kilauea – United States, Hawai’i. One of the most active volcanoes of the world, until 2018 contained one of the few lava lakes in the world.
- Kuwae submarine volcano – Vanuatu, Shefa, sea between Epi and Tongoa islands. One of the most active volcanoes in Vanuatu. It is possible that there was a catastrophic eruption in 1452 – 1452 AD. This eruption possibly created the present day sea between Epi and Tongoa. This was the largest eruption in the last 10,000 years, leaving a serious impact on climate worldwide. Submarine fumaroles from this volcano stain the sea water yellow, there rise bubbles of hydrogen sulfide as well.
- Mauna Loa – United States, Hawai’i. Volcano with the largest area in the world (of volcanoes above the sea level).
- Mauna Kea – United States, Hawai’i. One of the highest mountains in the world if measured from its underwater base – 10,203 m high, 4,207 m above the sea level.
- Molokini crater – United States, Maui. Partially submerged volcanic crater. Some 600 m long crescent-shaped summit rises above the water. Exceptional scuba diving site due to calm water, good visibility and exceptional biological diversity.
- Mount Yasur – Vanuatu, Tafea, Tanna island. One of the most active volcanoes in the world, erupting at least for several centuries. Volcano represents impressive, barren cinder cone contrasting with the usual forested landscape of Vanuatu. Often several times in one hour can be observed spectacular explosions of molten lava. Volcano is 361 m high.
- Pu’u ‘Ō’ō – United States, Hawai’i. One of the cinder cones of Kīlauea, erupting continuously since January 1983. Longest lived known rift-zone eruption. Continuous lava flows from this cone constantly change the geography of the island.
- Saleaula Lava Field – Samoa, Gaga’emauga. A lava stream from Mount Matavanu, which buried 5 villages. Especially impressive are the ruins of the church, filled with lava. "Virgins Grave" is a burial place of nuns which miraculously was not covered by lava.
- Arenal Volcano – Costa Rica, Alajuela. 1,670 m high volcano with perfect conical form. One of the most active volcanos in the world, very often offering a beautiful sight of red-glowing lava flowing down its slopes.
- Concepción volcano on Ometepe – Nicaragua, Rivas. Perfectly symmetrical volcanic cone, rising almost 1.6 km above the lake, thus turning Ometepe island into the highest lake island in the world.
- Fort Rock – United States, Oregon. Unusual landmark – tuff ring which rises 105 m above the surrounding plain.
- Kick-’em-Jenny – Grenada, Saint Patrick. Active submarine volcano north from Grenada. This volcano rises some 1,300 m above the sea floor and is just some 180 m below the sea surface. Crater contains fumaroles which emit bubbles of gas.
- Masaya volcano and its acid rain – Nicaragua, Masaya. Very active and unusual volcano (635 m) with several active craters. One crater contains molten lava, Santiago crater emits large amounts of sulfur dioxide, which created acid rain and eliminated vegetation around the volcano. Masaya crater contains intermittent lava lakes – in 1670 in Nindiri crater it was up to 1 km large, by far the largest known lava lake.
- Mount Cleveland – United States, Alaska, Aleutian Islands. Near symmetrical stratovolcano, 1 730 m high. Almost constantly active. Nearby from the sea rise several more symmetrical volcanic cones – such as the beautiful cone of Mount Carlisle and Herbert Island.
- Mount Douglas crater lake – United States, Alaska, Kenai. Approximately 160 m wide, highly acidic crater lake with pH of its water reaching 1.1.
- Mount Martin – United States, Alaska, Lake and Peninsula. Volcano with very active fumarolic activity. Crater contains acidic lake and thick sulphur deposits.
- Mount Shishaldin – United States, Alaska, Umnak. Most symmetrical cone-shaped glacier clad mountain in the world, 2857 m high. Volcano is continuously active, emitting a plume of steam.
- Parícutin – Mexico, Michoacán. Newly born volcano which appeared in cornfield in 1943 and grew 336 m tall in one year time, finally achieving height if 424 m in 1952.
- Poás volcano – Costa Rica, Alajuela. 2,708 m high, very active and unusual volcano. Contains Laguna Caliente – lake of extreme acidity reaching up to 0.0 of pH, filled with acid-sulfate-chloride brine of light green color. Lake is up to 50 m deep, 300 m wide, temperature: 22 – 94 °C. Frequent phreatic eruptions may eject this acid up to 1 kilometer high. Sometimes this effect is considered to be a kind of geyser activity but the mechanism behind this phenomenon is different than in true geysers. Another unique phenomenon linked to this monument is acid clouds of Poás Volcano. Around the Laguna Caliente and for several kilometers down from it all the vegetation is stunted brown and black by the extremely acid clouds coming from this lake. As a result here exists one of the most weird "elfin forests" of the world, often adorned with beautiful flowers.
- S P Crater – United States, Arizona. Well defined cinder cone with dark lava flow extending from it. This symmetric cone rises 250 m above surroundings.
- Chimborazo – Ecuador, Chimborazo. The farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the center of Earth. The highest mountain in Ecuador, 6,268.2 m high. The ice near the summit is mined for transport to the nearby cities.
- Cotopaxi volcano – Ecuador, Cotopaxi. 5,897 m high volcano – one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. The mountain has beautiful, symmetrical cone and contains one of the rare equatorial glaciers in the world, starting at the height of 5,000 m.
- Ojos del Salado – Chile, Atacama and Argentina, Catamarca. Highest volcano of the world, 6,891 m tall. It contains also crater lake at 6,390 m height – possibly the highest lake of the world.
- Osorno volcano – Chile, Los Lagos. 2,625 m tall volcano of beautiful conical form with snow-covered top.
- Volcan de Azufre – Ecuador, Galapagos, Isabela. Fumarolic area in the crater of Sierra Negra volcano, where the extremely rare terrestrial sulfuric flows have been identified.
- Volcan Ecuador – Ecuador, Galapagos, north-west of Isabela. Somewhat mysterious volcano, which somehow is missing its western half. May be this part collapsed in rather recent past, thus causing a giant tsunami.
Described volcanoes of the world
This category includes most unusual and interesting volcanoes of the world.
What are volcanoes?
Over the last 10,000 years in some 1,500 places around the Earth through the crust of the planet has been emitted lava, ash and gases from the mantle of Earth. Each of these places could be considered to be an active volcano. Every year some 50 – 70 volcanoes are erupting, at any moment there are some 20 – 30 eruptions on-going.
Best known and visually most impressive are stratovolcanoes – tall and conical mountains with a vent which opens in the summit. But there are other types of volcanoes as well, such as shield volcanoes and fissure vents – linear rows of smaller volcanoes or even open fissures. Not always it is easy to decide whether the diverse closely located volcanic features are parts of a single volcano or separate volcanoes.
What defines "unusual volcanoes"?
The mission of Wondermondo is to describe all the unusual places ("wonders") around the world. Each of the 1,500 active volcanoes and also some of the inactive ones are such unusual places. But, as always in life, some are more unusual than others.
The most unusual volcanoes can have the following characteristics:
- Record size or other superlatives;
- Unusual volcanic and other geological processes;
- Unusual geochemistry and characteristics which are linked to it;
- Unusual shape.
The tallest active volcano on Earth (above the sea level) is the Ojos del Salado (Chile), 6,891 m tall. It contains also world’s highest located lake at the height of 6,390 m.
The world’s tallest volcano as measured from it base is Mauna Kea (United States, Hawaii) which rises from the ocean floor 10,203 m tall. This is the tallest mountain in the world.
Chimborazo volcano (Ecuador) holds an unusual record – this 6,268 m tall mountain is the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the centre of Earth.
The deepest known volcano is located in Cayman Trough, Caribbean. These deep sea vents are located at the depth of some 5,000 m.
World’s biggest volcano – Tamu Massif under the waves of north-west Pacific – falls outside the scope of Wondermondo as its area exceeds 500 km² multiple times – it is some 311,000 km² large!
The oldest still-active volcano in the world is the giant Mount Cameroon (Cameroon). It has managed to have stamina (e.g. reservoir of magma unter it) for the last 30 millions of years at least.
Only few volcanoes in the world have lava lakes and the most persistant lava lake is in Erta Ale volcano (Ethiopia) – this volcano holds a lake of liquid stone since 1906 at least.
The largest intact volcanic caldera is Ngorongoro Crater (Tanzania) – amazing structure with an area of 260 km² and surrounded by up to 610 m tall walls and steeps.
The largest lava lake was seen in Masaya Volcano (Nicaragua) in 1670 – it was approximately 1 km wide.
There are few volcanoes in the world which are constantly active – constantly erupting. This offers predictable and magnificent sight. Among the most active ones can be mentioned Etna and Stromboli (Italy) which are erupting almost constantly for millenia, Kīlauea (Hawaiian Islands), Mount Yasur (Vanuatu), Piton de la Fournaise (Reunion) and others.
In most cases volcanoes are erupting from a single vent – there is a mountain with eruption at its summit. But there are times when Earth seems to open and from a long crack starts to flow lava. One such eruption took place in Iceland in 1783 – 1784, when simultaneously was erupting a chain of 130 craters – Laki fissure vent.
Active volcanoes are dynamic and often – changing. Some of these changes and processes are very unusual and impressive. Thus, for example, there are volcanoes which are rising from the sea: there appears a new island – volcano… it is washed away by the ocean waves and rises again and then – again… Some examples are Home Reef (Tonga), Kavachi (Solomon Islands). Often such submarine volcano manages to rise successfully and new island persists – such as Surtsey (Iceland) which rised in 1963 – 1967. Curtis Island (Kermadec Islands) has rised earlier and continues to rise quickly, with almost daily earthquakes. And there are also volcanoes which are rising and soon they might reach the surface of ocean (Kick-’em-Jenny in Grenada).
A natural wonder, albeit often very unpleasant is volcanoes which suddenly rise from flat field. Such recent surprises have been Parícutin (Mexico) and Shōwa-shinzan (Japan).
During the eruption one can witness liquid rocks – lava. But in very rare cases there form lava lakes which exist for longer time. Currently these volcanoes contain lava lakes:
- Benbow and Marum volcanoes (Vanuatu, Ambrym Island) – nearly permanent and spectacular;
- Erta Ale (Ethiopia);
- Halemaumau Crater with lava lake, Kilauea (Hawaiian Islands), often also in the nearby Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater;
- Masaya (Nicaragua) – intermittent, has been up to 1 km wide in 1670;
- Mount Erebus (Antarctica);
- Mount Nyiragongo (Congo DR) – at some moments this is the largest lava lake in the world;
- Nyamuragira (Congo DR) – intermittent but with a possibility that it will become permanent lake now;
- Villarrica (Chile) – intermittent.
There might be some more lava lakes in these remote and little explored volcanoes:
- Big Ben or Mawson Peak (Heard Islands);
- Mount Belinda (South Sandwich Islands);
- Mount Michael (South Sandwich Islands).
Some volcanoes emit poisonous and also rammish gases which affect wide environs – this is a kind of frequent chemical attack. For example Mount Asphyxia (South Sandwich Islands) frequently emits suffocating gases which together with the huge amount of penguin guano in the island can make the stay in Zavodovski Island unbearable. Large "field of acid" has been formed by Benbow and Marum volcanoes (Vanuatu), Masaya (Nicaragua), Poás volcano (Costa Rica).
Volcanoes exhibit interesting chemical properties rather frequently.
In rather many cases volcanic craters contain colourful, acid solutions. Such lakes of acid are found in the craters of Ebeko (Russia, Kuril Islands), Maly Semiachik (Russia, Kamchatka), Mount Douglas (United States, Alaska). Nakadake Crater Lake (Japan) is almost pure acid, with pH ranging from 0.5 to 1.7, similar acidity is in Ijen Caldera (Indonesia) but Laguna Caliente in Poás volcano (Costa Rica) sometimes reaches even the nearly impossible 0.0 pH. As if this is not enough, phreatic eruptions may eject this acid up to 1 kilometre high.
These lakes may have bright, unusual colors. These colors change over the time, turning from white into bright blue or green. Very unusual are Kelimutu crater lakes (Indonesia) – three closely located lakes, where each of them has different color – from bright red to green and blue.
Even volcanic flames sometimes have unusual colors. Thus the burning sulphuric gases in Ijen Caldera (Indonesia) in the night have impressive blue color.
Sometimes whole volcano consists of unusual substance. Such unique volcanoes are Ol Doinyo Lengai and Kerimasi in Tanzania – both are erupting very unusual natrocarbonatite lava which soon turns bright white as a snow.
Below the waters of oceans are located very weird volcanoes. Thus Daikoku Sulphur Cauldron (Northern Mariana Islands) contains a unique pool of liquid sulphur, NW Eifuku Champagne Vent (Northern Mariana Islands) emits almost pure liquid carbon dioxide.
Some volcanic formations have very unusual shape. For example, Molokini crater (Hawaii) is just a perfect, green crescent rising from the blue ocean. Somewhat similar, but on the land and even more imporessive is Fort Rock (United States, Oregon) which reminds ruins of a giant fortress. Suswa Volcano (Kenya) has unique double crater which looks like a deep pressed ring around its summit.
Many volcanoes are well known thanks to their perfect, symmetric shape. It is hard to say which one is the most symmetrical in the world but some of the most amazing ones are Mayon (Philippines), Mount Shishaldin (United States, Alaska) and the gorgeous Kronotsky (Russia, Kamchatka).
And many, many volcanoes are just beautiful in everything. Some are famous in the whole world (Mount Fuji in Japan), others – less known but not less gorgeous (Maelifell in Iceland).
This impressive scientific resource presents up-to-date information on ten thousand years of volcanic activity on Earth. In the decade and a half since the previous edition was published new studies have refined assessments of the ages of many volcanoes, and several thousand new eruptions have been documented. This edition updates the book’s key components: a directory of volcanoes active during the Holocene; a chronology of eruptions over the past ten thousand years; a gazetteer of volcano names, synonyms, and subsidiary features; an extensive list of references; and an introduction placing these data in context.
Exceptional nonfiction for children from two of the most trusted names in science education: Seymour Simon and the Smithsonian Institution.