The five biggest volcanic eruptions in modern times spewed out more than 100 cu km of magma. One of these include the largest eruption in living memory.
The word volcano has its origin from the Roman god of fire, Vulcan. Vulcan was said to have had a forge (a place to melt and shape iron) on Vulcano, an active volcano on the Lipari Islands in Italy.
Volcanoes are renowned as one of nature’s most beautiful creations. But, they are more notable for the devastating hazards they have caused to civilizations—wiping out towns and even affecting global climates.
Mount St. Helens
Mount St. Helens was famous for her catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980. It’s the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. It produced 19 km high of eruption cloud and 1 cu km of magma.
Mount Pinatubo lies in the provinces of Pampanga, Zambales and Tarlac, Philippines. Its ultra-Plinian colossal eruption which produced 10 cu km of magma in June 1991 is the second largest eruption of the 20th century and the largest eruption in living memory. Global temperatures dropped for three years and ozone depletion temporarily increased.
The most powerful volcanic eruption of the 20th century occurred in Novarupta—one of a chain of volcanoes on the Alaska Peninsula, USA. It was said to be 30 times more powerful than St. Helens and three times more than Pinatubo’s 1991 eruption. A 12 cu km of magma was erupted during the June 6-9, 1912 eruption.
Krakatoa or Krakatao is a volcanic island in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. Its 1883 eruption was equivalent to 200 megatons of TNT — about 13,000 times the power of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, and four times the energy of the Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear weapon ever built. It produced 18 cu km of magma.
Mount Tambora, rising at 8,930 ft is one of Indonesia’s tallest volcanoes. The Poverty Year in 1816 in which severe climate changes left countries in the Northern Hemisphere suffering from devastating famine and epidemic outbreaks was attributed to the volcano’s April 10, 1815 eruption. It was also called “the year without a summer” when snow fell on the month of June and frost was still widespread until July in North America and record snow falls worldwide. The large quantities of sulfur aerosols in the atmosphere were responsible for stunningly beautiful sunsets across the globe. The Mount Tambora eruption was four times the power of Krakatoa’s 1883 eruption yielding one hundred cubic km of magma.
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