Timelines :: Volcanoes

volcanoes-tl122 BC
Mount Etna had a very destructive eruption.

1470 BC 
The volcano Thera, or Santorini, erupted in the Mediterranean. It may correspond to the ninth plague of Egypt recorded in Exodus as the “darkness over Egypt.”

1450 BC 
The eruption of the volcano on Santorini Island about this time triggered earthquakes and tidal waves that may have destroyed most of the Minoan cities and palaces. In 1939 Spyridon Marinatos authored the “The Volcanic Destruction of Minoan Crete.”

79 AD 
August 24 – Pliny the Elder, Roman naturalist, witnessed the eruption of long-dormant Mount Vesuvius and was overcome by the fumes as he tried to rescue refugees. The eruption buried the Roman cities of Pompeii, Stabiae, Herculaneum and other, smaller settlements in 13 feet of volcanic ash and pumice. An estimated 20,000 people died.

December 16 – In Italy, Mount Vesuvius erupted and destroyed 6 villages. Some 3.5-4,000 people were killed.

March 11 – Mount Etna in Sicily erupted killing 15,000.

March 25 – Mount Etna, Sicily, erupted and destroyed Nicolos, killing 20,000.

August 11- Explosive eruptions blew 4,000 feet off Papandayan, Java, and 3,000 people were killed.

June 8 – In Iceland the Lakagicar volcano began erupting. Over the next 6 months it built a lava dam 40 miles long and 540 feet high in a month. The Laki volcano wiped out 75% of the crops, which led to a severe famine that killed some 10,000 people, 20% of the population, reducing the population to some 40,000 people.

1783 -1786
Japan suffered one of its worst famines in history when exceptional cold destroyed the rice harvest; as many as one million people died. Most of the impact for this was due to the eruptions of the Laki volcano in Iceland beginning in June of 1783.

October 8 – The Galunggung volcano on Java sent boiling sludge into valley. The eruption left 4,011 dead. The long-inactive volcano erupted Apr 4 and blew its top on Apr 12. The Oct 8 and Oct 12 eruptions left 4,011 dead.

May 8 – Mt. Pelee volcano, on the French Island of Martinique in the east West Indies, blew its top and wiped out the town of St. Pierre. A pyroclastic flow killed 29-40 thousand people.

The Soufrire volcano erupted on St. Vincent and 1,680 people were killed.

May 1 – In Indonesia Mount Kelud erupted. A powerful explosion that could be heard hundreds of miles away destroyed dozens of villages and killed at least 5,160 when a boiling crater lake broke through the crater wall killing people in 104 small villages.

May 20 – Volcano Keluit on Java erupted killing 550.

November 21 – In Indonesia lava began flowing as the Mount Merapi volcano erupted. 13 villages were destroyed and some 1369 people were killed by pyroclastic flows.

January 10 – Eruptions on Mount Huascaran in Peru destroyed 7 villages and killed 3.

May 18 – At 8:32 a.m. Mount Saint Helens, in Washington, erupted. It burst 3 times in 24 hours after rumbling for two months and left 57 people dead or missing. The mountain lost over 1,300 feet of elevation and gained a two-mile-long and one mile-wide crater.

The U.S. Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) was created by the USGS and the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance after a mudflow killed more than 23,000 people in Armero, Colombia in 1985.

February 10 – In Indonesia Mount Kelud erupted. Some 33, post eruption lahars took place from Feb 15-mar28 and more than 30 people were killed with hundreds injured.

June 3 – Mount Unzendake in southern Japan erupted and left 43 people dead and nearly 2,300 homeless. The dead included volcano experts Maurice and Katia Krafft.

June 15 – Mount Pinatubo (4,750 feet high) erupted. Due to early warning 56,000 people were evacuated and only 450 people died. The eruption forced the closure of Clark Air Force Base in Angeles City and displaced hundreds of families of the Aeta tribe.

July 18 – A volcano reawakened in southern Montserrat and threatened the 12,000 people on the 7 by 11 mile island. Officials, evacuated 5,000 people from the southern end agter the volcano began spewing ash and rock.

August 22  – On Montserrat voluntary evacuation of the islanders was begun. Two-thirds of the 12,000 inhabitants fled the island. It was expected that much of the island would not be habitable for 20 years after the eruptions ceased.

January 17 – The volcano Mount Nyiragongo erupted near Goma, Congo (DRC), and rivers of lava destroyed 14 villages. Goma was devastated and some 400,000 people fled their homes. At least 50 people were killed and many sought refuge in Rwanda.

June10 – In Indonesia Mount Awu on Sangihe Island erupted. Nearly 12,000 people living around the mountain had been evacuated to a nearby town.

August 17 – An overnight eruption in Ecuador’s Andes mountains killed at least one person and left more than 60 others missing. It was the first fatality reported from a Tungurahua eruption since the volcano rumbled back to life in 1999 after staying dormant for eight decades.

February 26 – Indonesian engineers dropped several large concrete balls into Lusi, a volcano, to try to stem a gushing mud eruption that has engulfed hundreds of homes and displaced 11,000 people.

February 6 – Ecuador’s Tungurahua volcano shot columns of ash miles into the air, as officials ordered the evacuation of 3,000 villagers living near its slopes.

May 2 – In Southern Chile authorities evacuated hundreds of people from villages after the snowcapped Chaiten volcano, considered dormant for thousands of years erupted.

May 13 – An eruption in the morning occured immediately to the east of Etna’s summit craters was accompanied by a swarm of more than 200 earthquakes and significant ground deformation in the summit area. The eruption continued at a slowly diminishing rate for 417 days, until 6 July 2009, making this the longest flank eruption of Etna since the 1991 – 1993 eruption that lasted 473 days. Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity. Due to its history of recent activity and nearby population, Mount Etna has been designated a Decade Volcano by the United Nations.

December 15 – The Philippines’ most active volcano oozed lava and shot up plumes of ash, forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes and face the possibility of a bleak Christmas in a shelter. State volcanologists raised the alert level on the cone-shaped, 8,070-foot (2,460-meter) Mayon volcano overnight to two steps below a major eruption.

March 2 – In southern Iceland a volcano erupted overnight, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate the area and diverting flights after authorities declared a local state of emergency.

August 29 – In Indonesia the Sinabung volcano on the island of Sumatra erupted for the first time in 400 years, spewing a vast cloud of smoke and ash into the air and sending thousands of people fleeing from their homes.

September 7 – Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung volcano shot a towering cloud of black ash high into the air, dusting villages 15 miles (25 km) away in its most powerful eruption since awakening last week from four centuries of dormancy.

October 26 – Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano erupted, prompting terrified villagers to flee and join the thousands already evacuated from its slopes.

November 21 – In Indonesia the death toll from the Mount Merpi volcano rose to 304 after more victims succumbed to severe burns and illnesses.

March 3 –  Hawaii – A new vent has opened at one of the world’s most active volcanoes, sending lava shooting up to 65 feet high, scientists at Kilauea volcano said Sunday.  Kilauea  has been in constant eruption since Jan. 3, 1983.At the summit, lava receded rapidly late Saturday but seemed to slow Sunday. There were also about 150 small earthquakes were recorded within Kilauea  in the past 24 hours.

November 21 – In Indonesia the death toll from the Mount Merpi volcano rose to 304 after more victims succumbed to severe burns and illnesses.

July 14 – In Indonesia Mount Lokon on Sulawesi island burst into life late at night and continued to spew ash and searing gas into the air well into the next morning, prompting more than 4,500 residents to head to safety.

July 17 – In Indonesia the Mount Lokon volcano on northern Sulawesi island erupted again and released the greatest amount of energy so far, shooting soot and debris 11,400 feet (3,500 meters) into the sky.

November 7 – In the Congo DRC the Nyamulagira volcano (also known as Nyamuragira) began an eruption that happens about every two years. It has been described as Africa’s most active volcano and has erupted over 40 times since 1885.

December 27 – In eastern Indonesia mud flows streaming from a volcano killed four villagers and about 1,000 others have fled their homes. Mount Gamalama in the Molucca Islands sprang to life this month with a powerful, non-fatal eruption.

September 8 – In Nicaragua the San Cristobal volcano spewed out a column of ash and gas 2.5 miles high, leading authorities to evacuate about 3,000 people from nine communities around the country’s tallest mountain.

March 27 – Pavlof Volcano, one of Alaska’s most active volcanoes, erupts, sending a plume of volcanic ash 37,000 feet into the air. The volcano is located  625 miles southwest of Anchorage.

While this has been a relatively average year for the world’s active volcanoes, the activity that did take place was spectacular. Out of an estimated 1,500 active volcanoes, 50 or so erupt every year, spewing steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava. In 2017, erupting volcanoes included Shiveluch in Russia, Villarrica in Chile, Mount Sinabung and Mount Agung in Indonesia, Turrialba in Costa Rica, Piton de la Fournaise on Réunion Island, Kilauea on Hawaii, Popocatepetl and Volcán de Colima in Mexico, Bogoslof Volcano in Alaska, Manaro Voui in Vanuatu, Mount Etna in Sicily, and more.

The eruption of Taal Volcano in Batangas, Philippines on January 12 was a phreatomagmatic eruption from its main crater that spewed ashes across Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and some parts of Central Luzon and Ilocos Region, resulting in the suspension of school classes, work schedules, and flights in the area. The event came 43 years after its previous eruption in 1977.