Volcanic Hazards Associated with
the World's Active Volcanoes

Charles W. Mandeville

[April 27, 2007]


About 10 percent of the world’s population (~360 million people) live on or near potentially dangerous volcanoes. Many of the processes that take place on active volcanoes are potentially hazardous to local populations.  Emergence of volcanology as a modern multidisciplinary science was largely a result of volcanic catastrophes that occurred at Krakatau Volcano in Indonesia in 1883 and at three localities in the Carribean-Central American region in 1902 including Mont Pelee on Martinique, Soufriere on St. Vincent, and Santa Maria in Guatemala.  A total of 72,980 fatalities resulted from these four eruptive events that occurred over a nineteen year period. Potentially hazardous geologic processes include eruption of lava flows and domes, pyroclastic density currents (including high-temperature pyroclastic flows and surges), cool base surges and directed blasts.


Other hazards include lahars and floods, structural collapse, tephra falls and ballistic projectiles, volcanic gases, volcanic earthquakes, atmospheric shock waves and tsunamis.  In some cases, remobilization of tephra long after eruption can also give rise to significant volcanic hazards. In addition, explosive volcanism can pose significant hazards to commercial air traffic over many regions and particularly along circum-Pacific routes.




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