Five active volcanoes to keep an eye on

Posted by Alan Valkenburg on 14 June 2021

Volcanoes grab our attention in the same way as sharks and forest fires. There’s just something really beautiful about all that power, that potential for carnage. But let’s get one thing straight right from the start: there is no World’s Deadliest Volcano. Sure, an eruption 3 000 years ago may have killed 100 000 people but that hardly makes it deadly today. So if you’re searching for a list of deadly volcanoes, this isn’t the list for you. However, what we can give you is a list of some of the world’s most active, some of which certainly tick the box when it comes to potential for carnage.

 Kilauea (Hawaii, US)

Five active volcanoes to keep an eye on

Kilauea captured spewing out into the ocean. Credit: Unsplash

Rated by some as the world’s most active volcano, Kilauea has been relatively quiet for the last three years. The quiet before the storm, perhaps? Before that, it was pretty much constantly spewing out lava for about 35 years. Located on Hawaii’s Big Island, the name means ‘much spreading or spewing’ in Hawaiian due to its frequent outpouring of lava into the ocean.

Located within the Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park, the volcano is currently open to visitors and there are several signposted trails to viewpoints.

 Mount Etna (Sicily, Italy)

Mount Etna is one of the better-known volcanoes around the world. Credit: Unsplash

This one you’ve almost certainly heard of, and we’re sorry about that. We like to reveal places you don’t know but Etna is on this list because it is just so active.

The highest active volcano in Europe (3 350m), Mount Etna is located in northeastern Sicily. The volcano erupts several times a year and is the surrounding area is sometimes closed for safety reasons. When safe, it’s possible to hike up or there’s a 20-minute cable car up the south side of the mountain.

Earlier this year, Etna sporadically spewed hot lava into the sky sending ash onto nearby houses and cars although for now, there’s no danger to nearby towns.

Piton de la Fournaise (Reunion Island, Indian Ocean)

Five active volcanoes to keep an eye on

Piton de la Fournaise on Reunion Island. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Probably one of the closest active volcanoes to South Africa (not that that’s saying much), the Piton de la Fournaise is the highest volcano in the Indian Ocean. Situated about 220km from Mauritius, the volcano on Reunion Island is 2 632m tall and takes up a third of the island.

The volcano is one of the world’s most active, erupting on average once every nine months. The latest explosive episode took place in April, spewing lava fountains up to 60m, which then flowed down the mountain.

Pacaya (Guatemala)

Five active volcanoes to keep an eye on

1992 eruption of the Pacaya Volcano. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Pacaya is one of the most active volcanoes in Guatemala – a country that boasts volcanoes like South Africa boasts national parks. Pacaya’s height (2550m) and location relatively close to the capital, Guatemala City, has made it a popular tourist attraction with thrill-seekers and tourists with an appetite for adventure.

They’ll have to be patient, however, as all trips are off for the moment after the volcano began to eject pillars of ash into the air in March. The eruptions were strombolian – the blasts themselves were relatively tame – but they threw out bombs of lava and burning cinders. Pacaya also had a strong blast in 2010, which killed three people.

 Arenal (Costa Rica)

Five active volcanoes to keep an eye on

2006 eruption of Arenal. Credit: Unsplash

While the name sounds a bit like the frigid Scandanavian town from the Frozen films, this volcano couldn’t be further from that if it tried. While it has been relatively quiet for about a decade, it wasn’t so long ago that it was still emitting smoke, ash and lava. The locals keep one eye on it at all times as the events of 1968 is still remembered. Then, a fearsome eruption devastated nearby villages.

There’s a 4km No-Go zone around the volcano’s peak today but for those who want to catch a glimpse, it’s located inside a lush, green national park with routes to explore the forest and old lava flows. There are trails with viewpoints, too.


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