Quantcast

U.S. Has 18 'Very High Threat' Volcanoes

Popular
Lava from the Kilauea eruption engulfs a nursery in Kapoho, Hawaii on June 2, 2018. Hawaii Army National Guard / Sgt. John Schoebel

Did you know that the U.S. is one of the most volcanic countries in the world? There are more than 160 active volcanoes in the nation—but which ones could cause the most damage if they erupt?

On Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released an update of its national volcanic threat assessment for the first time since 2005 and categorized 18 volcanoes as "very high threat."


At the top of the list is Hawaii's infamous Kilauea, which destroyed about 700 homes and terrorized parts of the Big Island for months after it erupted in May.

The top five were rounded out by Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier in Washington, Redoubt Volcano in Alaska and Mount Shasta in California.

The report doesn't tell you which of these fire mountains will blow next—scientists can't exactly do that yet. Rather, the aim is to help lawmakers, scientists and people living near volcanoes "mitigate damaging effects of these forces of nature," the document states.

If you take a look at the 18 "very high threat" volcanoes, 11 of them are located in Washington, Oregon or California, where explosive and often snow- and ice-covered edifices can project hazards long distances to densely populated and highly developed areas, according to the report.

Five of them are in Alaska near important population centers, economic infrastructure or below busy air traffic corridors, the researchers determined. Similarly, two very high threat volcanoes are on Hawaii, near densely populated and highly developed areas.

Kilauea is not only the country's most active volcano, "it's got a lot of development right on its flanks," government volcanologist John Ewert, the report's chief author, told the Associated Press.

U.S. Geological Survey national volcanic threat assessmentUSGS

According to the AP, the ranking system is based on volcano type, explosiveness, recent activity, eruption frequency, if it leads to seismic activity, proximity to human populations, past evacuations and if eruptions disrupt air traffic. They are then sorted into five threat categories: very low, low, moderate, high and very high.

This year's 18 big ones were the same as the ranking from 2005. The very low threat category had the greatest change from the previous report, dropping from 32 to 21 volcanoes.

So what about Yellowstone? The supervolcano is ranked at number 21 on the list under the "high risk" section. Mike Poland, scientist in charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, commented to the AP: "We don't really have any indication that Yellowstone is doing anything abnormal."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A Starbucks barista prepares a drink at a Starbucks Coffee Shop location in New York. Ramin Talaie / Corbis via Getty Images

By Cathy Cassata

Are you getting your fill of Starbucks' new Almondmilk Honey Flat White, Oatmilk Honey Latte, and Coconutmilk Latte, but wondering just how healthy they are?

Read More
Radiation warning sign at the Union Carbide uranium mill in Rifle, Colorado, in 1972. Credit: National Archives / Environmental Protection Agency, public domain

By Sharon Kelly

Back in April last year, the Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency decided it was "not necessary" to update the rules for toxic waste from oil and gas wells. Torrents of wastewater flow daily from the nation's 1.5 million active oil and gas wells and the agency's own research has warned it may pose risks to the country's drinking water supplies.

Read More
Sponsored
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg takes part in a "Friday for Future" youth demonstration in a street of Davos on Jan. 24, 2020 on the sideline of the World Economic Forum annual meeting. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pretended not to know who Greta Thunberg is, and then he told her to get a degree in economics before giving world leaders advice, as The Guardian reported.

Read More
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on the Suomi NPP satellite acquired this image of forest fire smoke hovering over North America on Aug. 15, 2018. NASA Earth Observatory

New York City isn't known for having the cleanest air, but researchers traced recent air pollution spikes there to two surprising sources — fires hundreds of miles away in Canada and the southeastern U.S.

Read More
If temperatures continue to rise, the world is at risk from global sea-level rise, which will flood many coastal cities as seen above in Bangladesh. NurPhoto / Contributor / Getty Images

The mounting climate emergency may spur the next global financial crisis and the world's central banks are woefully ill equipped to handle the consequences, according to a new book-length report by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), as S&P Global reported. Located in Basel, Switzerland, the BIS is an umbrella organization for the world's central banks.

Read More