The Ring of Fire is the largest and most active fault line in the world, stretching from New Zealand, around the east coast of Asia, over to Canada and the USA and all the way down to the southern tip of South America and causes more than 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes. The plates which make up the Ring of Fire are so huge even the slightest shift results in massive tremors, volcano activity and tsunamis. In total, 452 volcanoes sit upon the Ring of Fire and seismologists state it is impossible to predict when a volcano will erupt. But here are the five most dangerous volcanoes on the fault line which continue to pose a threat to humanity through 2020 and beyond.
Long Valley Caldera
The Long Valley Caldera is a supervolcano located in the US.
The Californian volcano has so much magma beneath the surface, it could support an eruption equivalent to the massive one which occurred 767,000 years ago, which released 140 cubic miles of material into the atmosphere.
By comparison, the 1980 Mount St Helens eruption resulted in the release of 0.29 cubic miles.
The Long Valley Caldera is one of the Earth’s largest calderas, measuring about 20 miles long, 11 miles wide and up to 3,000 feet (910 m) deep.
During the last 5,000 years, an eruption has occurred somewhere along this chain every 250 to 700 years – but usually only small ones to relieve the build-up of pressure beneath the surface.
Lake Toba is one of the world’s biggest supervolcanoes and is located in Sumatra, Indonesia.
It last erupted 74,000 years ago saw 2,800 cubic km of material ejected into the atmosphere.
Following the eruption, global temperatures plummeted for a decade, covering huge areas of Indonesia and India in ash.
An island in the middle of Lake Toba, Indonesia, is slowly rising and is thought to be a sign the Earth is bulging due to magma pressure below the surface.
A supervolcano located beneath the surface of Lake Taupo in the middle of New Zealand’s North Island.
It first began erupting around 300,000 years ago and has rarely been quiet since.
Taupo is responsible for the most recent supervolcao eruption when it burst into life around 26,500 years ago, shoving 1200 cubic km of pumice and ash into the atmosphere.
Since then, there have been 28 smaller eruptions, separated in time by between 50 and 5000 years showing just how unpredictable this one can be.
Another Indonesian volcano, Mt Agung, in Bali, is one of the most feared in the world.
Mount Agung had previously erupted in 1963, the most explosive volcanic event of the 20th century.
When the volcano last erupted in 1963, a huge amount of ash and sulphur dioxide were pumped into the atmosphere.
The sulphur dioxide subsequently reacted with water vapour in the air which formed sulphuric acid droplets.
Scientists believed 10 million tonnes of these sulphuric acid droplets gathered in the stratosphere which acted as a barrier.
This barrier reduced the amount of ultraviolet rays that made it from the sun to the Earth’s surface which had a cooling effect on the planet.
Experts say temperatures dropped by up to 0.4 degrees celsius.
While this may not sound like much, during the last Ice Age, global temperatures dropped by just five degrees celsius.
And it will erupt again.
Sakurajima is responsible for Japan’s most powerful eruption in the twentieth century.
On January 11, 1914, the volcano began violently erupting. In the ensuing days large earthquakes occurred which resulted in Sakurajima emptying its magma chamber, causing large flows of magma.
While no one died directly due to the eruption, 35 people perished from the accompanying earthquakes.
The volcano is located on the island of Kyushu – southwest of Japan – and is known for its frequent eruptions.
Kyushu is home to just over 13 million people and sits on top of the Japanese ‘ring of fire’, where there are around 100 active volcanoes.