Vol­canic erup­tions have long wreaked havoc on the earth. Ma­jor erup­tions in Peru in 1600, Ice­land in 1783, and In­done­sia in 1815 col­lec­tively killed mil­lions of peo­ple world­wide due to poi­sonous gases and crop fail­ures. To­day, hun­dreds of vol­ca­noes pose a

Canada's History - - CHRISTOPHER MOORE -


Un­der­neath the bub­bling sul­phuric hot springs and erupt­ing gey­sers of Yel­low­stone Na­tional Park in Wy­oming, lies a gi­ant caldera with the po­ten­tial to form a su­per vol­cano. Such an erup­tion would dev­as­tate the en­tire planet. How­ever, the like­li­hood of this hap­pen­ing any­time soon is ex­tremely small.


This Ital­ian vol­cano near Naples erupts about ev­ery two decades but has been quiet since 1944. Some fear that means a ma­jor buildup for the next erup­tion. It’s most fa­mous for bury­ing the cities of Her­cu­la­neum and Pom­peii in AD 79. Plans to quickly evac­u­ate up to 700,000 peo­ple are in place to­day.


About nine mil­lion peo­ple live within the blast ra­dius of this vol­cano lo­cated about fifty kilo­me­tres from Mex­ico City. Popocat­pétl means “smok­ing moun­tain.” Its large, glacier-cov­ered peak last erupted in 2000. Pre­ven­ta­tive evac­u­a­tions of 41,000 peo­ple in nearby towns pre­vented a ma­jor catas­tro­phe.


Thou­sands of small ex­plo­sions come from Saku­ra­jima’s peak ev­ery year, throw­ing ash onto the 700,000 res­i­dents of nearby Kagoshima, Ja­pan. For­tu­nately, the city has spe­cial vol­cano shel­ters for peo­ple to go to when this hap­pens. It’s called the “Ve­su­vius of the east” for the fre­quency of its erup­tions.

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