Earth's Unique Volcanoes

Millions of volcanoes are believed to have been active since the beginning of time. About 1,500 of these fire-spewing mountains are known to have been erupting on land during the past 10,000 years. Out of the estimated 600 volcanoes that have erupted during recorded history, these five volcanoes are unique for different reasons. Find out what makes them stand out.

Mauna Loa (Hawaii)
Mauna Loa is a massive shield volcano that forms half the island of Hawaii. It is the world’s most active, largest subaerial and highest volcano. It rises 4,170 m (13,680 ft) above sea level and measures an additional 5,000 m (16,400 ft) below sea level to the sea floor. The central portion of the volcano has depressed the sea floor another 8,000 m (26,000 ft) in the shape of an inverted cone, giving the volcano from true base to summit a total of 17,170 m (56,000 ft).

 Mount Etna (Italy)


 
Mount Etna is Europe’s largest and most active volcano. This stratovolcano is in an almost constant state of activity since it started erupting half a million years ago. It has the longest period of documented eruptions among all the planet’s volcanoes with the earliest recorded observation written in 425 B.C by Diodorus Siculus.

Mount Tambora (Indonesia)
Mount Tambora
 
The 1918 eruption of Mount Tambora was the most powerful volcanic eruption of the 19th century. At least 71,000 people died including up to 12,000 killed directly by the eruption. Tambora’s massive sulfate dust covered the earth, cooling temperatures and causing global climate abnormality for more than three years resulting in the worst famine of the 19th century.

Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania)
Ol Doinyo Lengai
 
If there’s one volcano that truly fascinates volcanologists, it has to be Tanzania’s Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano. It expels natrocarbonatite lava instead of the usual silica-basalts. Due to the unusual lava composition, the temperature is very low that instead of having the red glow, the extremely fluid lava appears black or dark brown in sunlight. The viscosity of the lava is almost like water and when it has cooled down it turns into soft white powder. The result is a volcanic landscape you cannot find anywhere else in the world.

Nyiragongo (Congo)
Nyiragongo is unique for its gigantic summit crater where the world’s largest permanent lava lake is formed. The lava emitted is extremely fluid it flows at more than 60 miles per hour, the fastest ever observed. In January 1977, the crater walls cracked and the lava lake drained in less than an hour overwhelming villages nearby. Nyiragongo is also notorious for discharging huge amounts of sulfur dioxide, around 7,000 tons a day, making the air noxious and smells of acid. The two mile high volcano is said to affect 2 million people when it erupts. 


*First published on Wikinut