The Decade Volcanoes

Ulawun Volcano, Papau New Guinea, one of the "Decade Volcanoes"

There was some discussion earlier about the so-called "Decade Volcanoes", so I thought I'd elaborate a bit on them (doubly so in light of certain other lists.) These volcanoes are defined by IAVCEI - the International Association of Volcanology and the Chemistry of the Earth's Interior - and are part of a program whose aim is

"to direct attention to a small number of selected, active volcanoes world-wide and to encourage the establishment of a range of research and public-awareness activities aimed at enhancing an understanding of the volcanoes and the hazards posed by them."

More or less, it is a list of what could be considered the most hazardous volcanoes on the planet - at least in terms of hazards to people and property. The programs brings together geologists and government officials to research the volcanoes and better prepare for the next eruption. The USGS has a map showing were these volcanoes are located but I thought I'd list them here as well. Many are familiar names here on Eruptions, other are a little less prominent, at least in terms of recent activity. I've tried to link to any information I have on the volcanoes on the blog, but all of these are both fascinating and dangerous volcanoes.

  1. Avachinsky-Koryaksky, Kamchatka
  2. Colima, Mexico
  3. Etna, Italy
  4. Galeras, Colombia
  5. Mauna Loa, USA
  6. Merapi, Indonesia
  7. Nyiragongo, Dem. Rep. of the Congo
  8. Rainier, USA
  9. Sakurajima, Japan
  10. Santa Maria/Santiaguito, Guatemala
  11. Santorini, Greece
  12. Taal, Philippines
  13. Teide, Spain (Canary Islands)
  14. Ulawun, Papau New Guinea
  15. Unzen, Japan
  16. Vesuvius, Italy

(And if you're curious what "decade" this refers to, its 1990-2000, the decade of "International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction". Maybe you missed between all the Nirvana, Macarena and Gen X, eh?)

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I'll admit to being curious why Mauna Loa is on the list. Yes, lava flows can get to Hilo, but that seems like a minor hazard compared to some of the others on the list.

You know, when I was writing this up, I wondered the same thing. Mauna Loa is definitely the most "benign" of the 'Decade Volcanoes.' My guess is the threat of lava flows reaching Hilo, along with potential tsunami-producing landslides might have had some effect on the inclusion. Anybody else have an idea of how Mauna Loa ended up on the list - beyond the idea that any list of major volcanoes worldwide that lacked a Hawaiian volcano would seem wrong.

Must admit, did a double take on your header photo of Ulawun; at first glance it looks a LOT like the GVP website pic of Lopevi, only the different background gives it away

Dr. Klemetti,
The folks at Fresh Bilge sent me over here to learn about volcanism. You have helped to open my eyes. Can you suggest any websites about earthquakes? The regular media sites don't cover the subject to the depth that you do when discussing volcanoes. Thank you for your continued effort to explain science to the curious.

I've been to all but 5 of these. In terms of risk to humans living in the area a few others come to mind too but I guess the list has limits.

Mauna Loa was included mostly because it was expected to erupt during the decade (which we all know it didn't), and because it represents an enormous hazard not only to Hilo but to widespread areas that are still being intensely developed and urbanized. It is feared that lava flows might, if they move as fast as they did in 1950, reach urbanized areas on the southwest flank in a few hours, leaving very little time for warning and evacuation. The situation has deteriorated significantly since the IDNDR (the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction), so Mauna Loa would now even more deserve to be on the Decade Volcano list.

Yo, I was just up the Colima volcano last week. It was pretty earry to look at the pyroclastic flow deposits and then walk through them to see lava flows! Even scarier that some ancient flow deposits go toward the city for miles. It is very impressive. I highly recommend it to anyone traveling to Guadalajara. On a clear day, you can see the ocean from the south flank.

Aaron, how do you get to the Colima volcano? I pass that way frequently and don't know which road to take.

By Paul Lentrichia (not verified) on 07 Mar 2010 #permalink

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