Living next to a sleeping giant……


With the Earths population growing at the rate it is, it is impossible not to have people living near active volcanoes. The worrying part is how many major cities live near ones with violent pasts making the risk even more real. Here are some which I think people need to pay particular attention to;

By far one of Ecuador’s most active volcanoes, with a near constant state of activity since it began erupting again in 1999. The volcano actually sits in the caldera from its predecessor after an explosive eruption caused a collapse showing the power this system can produce. The town of Baños de Agua Santa home to nearly 10,000 people is at its foot and the cities of Ambeto and Riobamba are with 30 km of its flanks. Its strombolian eruptions are explosive and powerful and can create dramatic pyroclastic flows which endanger surrounding populations.

Left; Tungurahua erupting in February 2014 as seen from Ambato

Indonesia Shroud of Ash
Indonesia may as well be known as the volcanic capital of the world with hundreds of volcanoes spread around the archipelago caused by plate subduction. Tambora and Krakatoa gave us the most explosive eruptions of recent history and Merapi is in the position that it could do the same. One on the most active volcanoes in the region its name literally means fire mountain. Despite a sterile zone being put in place after the 2010 eruption thousands still live on the fire mountains flanks and Yogyakarta City is just 28 km to the north.Left; A town devastated by Merapi’s 2010 eruption.
Sakurajima is by far one of the most active volcanoes in Japan and sits in the Aira caldera showing that extreme eruptions have occurred from this system in the past. Once an island, the 1914 eruption spewed out so much material it became attached to the main land. The city of Kagoshima and nearly 700,000 residents live with in kilometers of the volcano and regularly take part in evacuation drills ready for the next big one.Left; 500th eruption of Sakurajima in 2013 alone.
Mount Rainer
The Seattle skyline is famed usually for buildings such as the space needle but people rarely notice the mountain just kilometers away. This home to over 650,000 people sits by the Cascade Range famed for eruptions such as the explosion of St Helens in 1980. But it is Rainer which has thousands living at its feet and the eruption its self is not even the real danger. The mountain is capped with a glaciers which would send lahars sweeping down its flanks devastating any thing in their path including little old Seattle.Left; Seattle skyline with Mt Rainer looming over
Mount Vesuvius
The cause of probably one of the most famous eruption in human history killing an estimated 16000 people in 79AD. The towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum were drowned by pyroclastic flows, not only killing the residents but also preserving them in the ash. The eruption was beautifully documented by the two Plineys and gave rise to the modern name of that style of eruption; Plinian. Now the city of Naples is a mere 5.6 miles (9 km) away from this deadly mountain and the area is home to in excess of 3 million people. Luckily large eruptions like that of 79AD tend to happen after very long periods of inactivity and Vesuvius has had smaller eruptions since. That is not to say that it may not happen again putting millions of lives and homes at risk.Left; Satellite image showing Vesuvius and the densely populated surrounding area.



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