Special Report

The Most 31 Dangerous Volcanos in the US

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa is in the process of erupting for the first time in nearly four decades. While experts are not concerned that the eruption could threaten life on the islands, the event will cause some of the island to be coated in as much as a quarter of an inch in ash. While the mountain has not caused fatalities in some time, earlier eruptions destroyed villages. In the 1850s, an erupting Mauna Loa came close to destroying Hilo, the largest settlement on the island. Some are likely counting themselves lucky that the long-anticipated eruption was relatively mild this time.

Massive volcanic eruptions are among the best-known moments in history. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, it destroyed the city of Pompeii and people for miles around it.

More recent eruptions are widely known parts of recent history. Millions of Americans can remember television coverage of the explosion of Mount Saint Helens in 1980. It was the deadliest volcanic eruption in American history, and caused over $1 billion in damages. It continues to be considered a dangerous volcano.

To identify the most dangerous volcanoes in the United States, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the overall threat score from the “2018 update to the U.S. Geological Survey national volcanic threat assessment.” The most recent eruption year also came from the USGS. The population within 30 kilometers and 100 kilometers (about 18 and 60 miles, respectively), for each volcano was obtained from The Smithsonian Institution’s “Volcanoes of the World” database.

The most dangerous volcano in the world is Kīlauea, Hawaii, an active shield volcano in the Pacific island chain.

Scientists have different ways of classifying types of volcanoes. For instance, a stratovolcano (or composite volcano) is a steep symmetrical cone built of lava flows, volcanic ash and other materials (some of the world’s highest mountains are stratovolcanoes). A lava dome is a comparatively small volcano built from dense lava flow. This is the tallest mountain in America.

Not all volcanic eruptions are the same. Some are fairly calm and pose little threat to nearby inhabitants. Others can be violent, with catastrophic effects. Smaller volcanic events can be spectacular to witness from a safe distance, and many active volcanoes release dazzling lava without massive violent eruptions. Others, though, continue to pose major threats to cities around the world, even if they have previously erupted.

Click here to see the most dangerous volcanoes in America

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