From cultures who made volcanic sacrifices to dreaded supervolcanoes, we count fifteen incredible facts about volcanoes.
15 – Active Volcanoes,
- There are at least 1,500 active volcanoes in the world right now above sea level. No one knows how many are underwater, but experts estimate at least a million.
- Every day, between ten and twenty volcanoes spew their delicious magma-ry goodness somewhere on the Earth’s surface. This isn’t even counting classroom volcano models which erupt when bi-carb, food dye and vinegar meet.
- What would happen if these 1,500 volcanoes erupted at once? One geologist says the effects of a synchronised blast would trigger an environmental domino chain more powerful than a nuclear winter.
- But don’t worry: scientists think the chance of every volcano on the planet erupting at once is unlikely. They’re pretty sure about this. Like seventy percent.
14 – Volcanic Sunsets,
- If your partner likes romantic sunsets, bring them to the site of an erupting volcano. During a volcanic eruption, sunlight needs to travel through gas and fine ash particles. This scatters the sunrays at the spectrum’s red end, giving the sunset a more vibrant reddish appearance.
- This occurred in 2008 during the eruption of Alaska’s Kasatochi volcano. People all over the world were treated to sunsets with unusually beautiful orange and coral hues.
- However, stopping to admire this visual phenomenon isn’t recommended if you’re anywhere near a volcano’s danger zone. Come on, it’s not called the ‘stop and stare’ zone.
13 – Pacific Ring of Fire,
- Our whole world is threatened by something called the Pacific Ring of Fire: a string of volcanoes dotted around the Pacific Ocean’s perimeter. In this area, several tectonic plates move beneath each other, causing some of the world’s deadliest eruptions.
- Within the Pacific Ring of Fire there are 452 volcanoes. This encompasses seventy-five percent of world’s total dormant and active volcanoes above sea level.
- Not somewhere you want to vacation. Was this what Johnny Cash was singing about all these years?
12 – Volcano Deities,
- In many cultures, volcanoes are associated with divinity. You’ve got Vulcan – no, not the Australian Gladiator – the Roman blacksmith of the gods whose forge was said to be on the volcanic island of Vulcano.
- The Aztecs of Mexico once sacrificed beautiful girls to the powerful gods they believed lived in lava lakes. The Aztec Empire honoured the massive twin volcanoes Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl by building statues with human faces to worship. They revered these statues the way most cultures revere kings or holy men. This practice carries on even today.
- Finally, Pele is the Hawaiian deity of fire and volcanoes. This fiery-tempered goddess lives in the crater of the Kilauea volcano and throws lava at those who piss her off. A bit like my grandma, who throws cats at people.
11 – Top Three Countries for Active Volcanoes,
- The United States has the third most active volcanoes in world. It has sixty-five, including the formidable Mount St. Helens. Twelve of these are considered high alert and have to be monitored regularly, and two of these are scheduled to erupt imminently. We might not even make it to the end of this countdown!
- Japan takes the silver medal, with a hundred and ten active volcanoes. That’s right: the tiny island isn’t just home to Godzilla; it houses a whopping ten percent of the world’s active volcanoes.
- Indonesia ranks number one for most active volcanoes throughout history. It has a hundred and thirty of the damn things. So, if you’re an aspiring international villain, this is where you want to set up your secret lair.