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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

9 Active Volcanoes People Still Live Near

Learn which communities sit in the path of volcanic eruptions

By Brynn Mannino


Civilizations developed on the flanks of volcanoes for the same reason an estimated 500 million people continue to live on them today: mineral-rich soil, geothermal energy, tourism opportunities and natural beauty. Following the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland, and the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens, we started wondering which volcanoes pose the biggest threat to people. Here’s what we came up with.

Mount Vesuvius in Naples, Italy

Last known eruption: 1944

Mount Vesuvius, which overlooks the Bay of Naples, is the only volcano in mainland Europe to have erupted within the last century—and, due to its dense surrounding population of approximately 3 million people, is regarded as one of the most dangerous in the world. Alas, the volcanic soil surrounding the roaring volcano is too rich to let go to waste and the tourism opportunities too plentiful, because the government can’t get many of the nearby residents to accept $30,000 per family to move to a safer location. Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

Kilauea in Kalapana, Hawaii

Last known eruption: 1983

Kilauea, which overlaps the eastern flank of the massive Mauna Loa shield volcano, has been Hawaii’s most active volcano in recent years. Kalapana was once considered one of the most beautiful Hawaiian regions. But in 1983, a long-term eruption began that has produced lava flows, destroyed nearly 200 homes and added new coastline to the island. In recent years, however, the population of 2,421 people has grown 11.7 percent as people slowly return to the beautiful black sand beaches. Photo courtesy of rjones0856 via

Suribachi in Iwo Jima, Japan

Last known eruption: 2001

The rock on which the famous battle occurred is home to four hundred Japanese Self-Defense Force staffers who manage air-traffic control, fueling, rescue airbase and explosive-ordnance disposal, but otherwise the island has been uninhabited since the end of the U.S. occupation in 1968. Civilians are only permitted on the island for memorial services, as construction workers for the naval air base or as meteorological agency officials. Photo courtesy of

Merapi in Java, Indonesia

Last known eruption: 2007

Home to a population of approximately 130 million, Java is the most populated island in the world. It’s also host to 45 volcanoes (excluding 20 small craters) including Merapi, the most feared in the country. In Indonesia, however, the best and most lucrative rice crops—a main source of income—are obtained from the rich soils located close to the volcanoes, which keeps the farming population close by. Photos by Philippe Bourseiller / Getty Images.

Popocatépetl in Puebla, Mexico

Last known eruption: 2010

"Popocatépetl," the Aztec word for “smoking Mountain,” has had over 20 major eruptions in recent history. In the time of the Aztecs, the closer the maize grew to the mountain, the earlier it ripened and the better it tasted due to the rich soil and geothermal climate. Now, more than 2 million people live in Puebla, which is just 25 miles west of Mexico City. Officials warn residents to stay at least four miles from the crater after five hikers were found dead in 1995, possibly due to volcanic gases. Locals stick around, however, due to the city’s lucrative tourism opportunities and rich soil. Photo by Bruno Perousse / Getty.

Galeras in Pasto, Colombia

Last known eruption: 2010

Pasto, which boasts a population of more than 300,000 inhabitants, is located at the foot of the Galeras volcano, currently the most active volcano in Colombia (it has been in a state of eruption for over 20 years). A majority of the 8,000 people (mostly farmers) living close to it tend to ignore the frequent evacuation alerts. The fact that the volcano erupted unexpectedly in 1993, unleashing a deadly blow that killed nine people, doesn’t scare civilians away, as the volcanic soil serves them all too well—the region specializes in the production of dairy products. Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

Stromboli in Stromboli, Italy

Last known eruption: 2010

Stromboli volcano, a.k.a. “the lighthouse of the Mediterranean” is one of two active volcanoes on the Aeolian Islands—a volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea north of Sicily, Italy. Stromboli and its always smoke-spewing volcanic cone has become a native- and tourist-loved epicenter, thanks to the city’s untouched eastern side, which is lined with whitewashed houses, narrow streets and beautiful black-sand beaches. The population, though only a few hundred people during winter, swells to several thousand in the summer. Photo by Getty Images.

Etna in Sicily, Italy

Last known eruption: 2010

Europe’s largest volcano, Etna, serves as a backdrop for the city of Catania, and is in a constant state of contained eruption. Lava moves slowly down the mountain, giving those nearby a chance to escape, which is how the volcano got the nickname “friendly giant.” In the event of a large explosion, though, many locals living nearby would probably have to relocate. But residents take the risk, as the mineral-rich soil is perfect for cultivating vineyards, olive groves, citrus plantations and orchards. Photo by De Agostini/Getty Images.

Eyjafjallajökull in Reykjavik, Iceland

Last eruption: 2010

The most recent volcanic eruption began in March 2010, turning destructive in April with melt-water floods, the evacuation of nearly 800 people (many who were farmers) and the most extensive air travel disruption in Northern Europe since World War II. As of today, there is no sign of the eruption ceasing—which is no problem for nearby tourist agencies. According to the BBC, the 25 active Icelandic volcanoes have long been the center of Iceland’s tourism, drawing crowds from across the globe. Photos by Arctic-Images /Getty Images.


Bo Lozoff May 27, 2010 at 4:53 AM  

Aloha, it is misleading to say "last known eruption" of Kilauea was 1983, because it is still erupting since that time! I live on its flanks, and I watch molten lava day and night flow into the ocean. This past Friday, May 21st, marked the 10,000th continuous day of the Jan 3, 1983 eruption.

Obat nyeri dada ampuh January 24, 2018 at 11:57 PM  

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