Famous Volcanoes

Five Famous Volcanoes in History

Krakatoa

Krakatoa Volcano

Lithograph of the Kratatoa eruption

Why is it famous?

Its eruption in 1883 is the loudest in recorded history and the tsunami it created killed tens of thousands.

Located not far off from the Indonesian mainland, Kratatoa exploded in 1883 and killed 36,417 people and possibly more.  Most of those who died were drowned by a tsunami that spawned after the volcano erupted.

The explosion of Krakatoa had a force greater than even the biggest nuclear bombs ever detonated by man. The ash and plume that went into the air darkened the skies around the world for years afterwards.

The sound of the explosion is thought to be one of the loudest on record; people from Western Australia reported of hearing the explosion.

Mauna Loa

Mauna Loa

Mauna Loa

Why is it famous?

It is the biggest volcano in the world.

Mauna Loa holds the distinction as the biggest volcano on Earth in terms of volume and area covered.  It makes up half the size of the island of Hawaii.  And if you count the volcano’s submerged underwater base into its total measurements, Mauna Loa is actually taller than Mount Everest.

Mauna Loa is a shield-type volcano that is also one of the most studied.  Its prehistoric activity is the most well covered of all volcanoes.

It is still active, with flowing lava fountains and light tremors.

Vesuvius

Vesuvius Volcano

Vesuvius

Why is it famous?

It is often associated with Pompeii, a city in Italy that is famous for being wiped out by the volcano.

The city of Pompeii was lost when it was buried from the ashes and pume of the erupting Vesuvius around 79 AD.  The city was a half mile from the volcano and the people of Pompeii never had the chance to escape when the volcano erupted.  The eruption lasted for two days.

The accidental rediscovery of the city 1,700 years later lead to an excavation that revealed much of what was left is well-preserved from the volcanic ash.  Pompeii has since become a popular destination for tourists, scientists and historians.  When kids in school learn about famous volcanoes, Vesuvius is usually the first one they learn about because of its historic context.

Vesuvius is the only volcano on European mainland to erupt in the last 100 years.  The area around the volcano has been declared a national park since 1995.

Tambora

Tambora

Tambora

Why is it famous?

It had the most powerful volcanic eruption witnessed in human history.

While they are both located in Indonesia, Tambora’s eruption in 1815 was ten times bigger than Krakatoa’s eruption in 1883.  It spewed more ash, plume and gases into the sky than any known volcanic eruption and this event literally effected the world.  A year following the eruption, temperatures around the globe dropped to abnormal levels, killing crops which lead to food shortages and livestock dying.  An increase in famine and deaths soon followed.  The eruption managed to cripple the world economy.

Over 10,000 people were directly killed by the volcano and for 70,000+ people who lived geographically close to Tambora, they perished from famine and disease after the eruption.

Eyjafjallajökull

Eyjafjallajökull Volcano

Eyjafjallajökull

Why is it famous?

It’s eruption caused great inconvenience to the airline industry and its flyers, making this the most famous volcano in modern times.

The Icelandic volcano with the funny name, Eyjafjallajökull’s eruption in Spring of 2010 caused air traffic in Europe to shut down due to concerns of the tremendous amount of ash that was spewed into the sky from the volcano. Tens of thousands of passengers in Europe were left stranded and unable to fly out of their destination.  This shutdown also inconvenienced flyers in other parts of the world as well who wanted to fly into Europe.  The shutdown lasted for over a week and in some northern parts of Europe, flights weren’t available until a month later.

Eyjafjallajökull costed the airline industry over one billion dollars and was prominently in the eyes of the news media for most of mid April 2010.  The volcano’s name was used in jokes on talk shows and late night standup.

Eyjafjallajökull has a sister volcano named Katla which lies 15.5 miles west of Eyjafjallajökull. Katla is not as well known but ironically it is the more active of the two volcanoes.