Which volcanic eruptions were the deadliest?
Deadliest Volcanic Eruptions Since 1500 A.D.
Eruption Year Casualties Major Cause
- Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia 1985 25,0001,3 Mudflows3
- Mont Pelée, Martinique 1902 30,0001(29,025)2 Pyroclastic flows2
- Krakatau, Indonesia 1883 36,0001(36,417)2 Tsunami2
- Tambora, Indonesia 1815 92,0001,2 Starvation2
- Unzendake, Japan 1792 15,0001(14,030)2 Volcano collapse, Tsunami2
- Lakagigar (Laki), Iceland 1783 9,0001 (9,350)2 Starvation2
- Kelut, Indonesia 1586 10,0001
Other Notable Eruptions
- Mount Pinatubo, Philippines 1991 3503 Roof Collapse3
- Mount St. Helens, Washington 1980 573 Asphyxiation from ash
- Kilauea, Hawaii 1924 11 Falling rock1
- Lassen Peak, California 1915 04
- Mount Vesuvius, Italy 79 A.D. 3,3602 Pyroclastic Flow2
1 Eruptions of Mount St. Helens: Past, Present, and Future
2 Blong, R.J., 1984, Volcanic Hazards: A Sourcebook on the Effects of Eruptions: Orlando, Florida, Academic Press, 424p.
3 Living With Volcanoes: The U.S. Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program
4 Spall, H. (ed.), 1980, Earthquake Information Bulletin: July-August, 1980, v.12, no.4, 167p.
Hundreds of articles have been written about the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history, at Indonesia’s Mt. Tambora just over 200 years ago. But for a small group of New England-based researchers, one more Tambora story needed to be told, one related to its catastrophic effects in the Gulf of Maine that may carry lessons for intertwined human-natural systems facing climate change today.
In early September of 2010, a pattern of increased earthquake activity occurred at the Mount Merapi volcano in Indonesia. A few days later, an avalanche was observed south of the mountain, and white plumes were seen rising above the crater. A lava dome detected in March began to increase rapidly.
There are approximately 1,550 potentially active volcanoes around the world. VDAP works to reduce loss of life and property, limit economic impact and prevent volcanic crises from becoming disasters.
The world’s largest volcanic eruption to happen in the past 100 years was the June 15, 1991, eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.
Aerial view of the caldera of Mt. Tambora, island of Sumbawa, Indonesia.
In November 1985, a lahar (volcanic mudflow) originating from Nevado del Ruiz volcano inundated the town of Armero, destroying all infrastructure in its path and killing 23,000 people. VDAP was developed in response to this tragedy. Photograph credit: USGS/VDAP
Title: A Sight "Fearfully Grand" Eruptions of Lassen Peak, California, 1914 to1917
- A summary of the eruptions and their effects
- Illustrated with historical photographs
USGS scientists recount their experiences before, during and after the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Loss of their colleague David A. Johnston and 56 others in the eruption cast a pall over one of the most dramatic geologic moments in American history.
An aerial view looking north at two active areas of Kīlauea. Pu`u `Ō `ō crater is in the foreground, Mauna Loa (left) and Mauna Kea (right) are in the background. The fume source near the base of Mauna Loa (at Kīlauea's summit) is from the Halema`uma`u Overlook vent. The wind is blowing the plume trace toward the northeast, partially obscuring the view of Mauna Kea.
Lahar devastation after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines.
The eruption of Mount Pinatubo sent lahars and pyroclastic flows down the mountain, wiping out bridges and other infrastructure downstream.
Giant ash cloud from the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, 1991 towering above farms and agricultural lands in the Philippines.
On Sunday, May 18, 1980 at 8:32 a.m., the bulging north flank of Mount St. Helens slid away in a massive landslide -- the largest in recorded history. Seconds later, the uncorked volcano exploded and blasted rocks northward across forest ridges and valleys, destroying everything in its path within minutes.