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Active volcano facts for kids

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Map plate tectonics world
World map of active volcanoes and plate boundaries
Lava entering sea - Hawaii
Kīlauea's lava entering the sea
Bárðarbunga Volcano, September 4 2014 - 15145875322
Lava flows at Holuhraun, Iceland, September 2014

An active volcano is a volcano that has erupted during the Holocene (the current geologic epoch that began approximately 11,700 years ago), is currently erupting, or has the potential to erupt in the future. A volcano that is not currently erupting but could erupt in the future is known as a dormant volcano. Volcanoes that will not erupt again are known as extinct volcanoes.


There are 1,350 potentially active volcanoes around the world, 500 of which have erupted in historical time. Many active volcanoes are located along the Pacific Rim, also known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. An estimated 500 million people live near active volcanoes.

Historical time (or recorded history) is another timeframe for active. The span of recorded history differs from region to region. In China and the Mediterranean, it reaches back nearly 3,000 years, but in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada, it reaches back less than 300 years, and in Hawaii and New Zealand it is only around 200 years. The incomplete Catalogue of the Active Volcanoes of the World, published in parts between 1951 and 1975 by the International Association of Volcanology, uses this definition, by which there are more than 500 active volcanoes. As of March 2021, the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program recognizes 560 volcanoes with confirmed historical eruptions.

Countries with the most Holocene volcanoes, according to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History Global Volcanism Program:

  1. United States: 165
  2. Japan: 122
  3. Russia: 117
  4. Indonesia 117
  5. Chile: 91

Countries with the most volcanoes active since 1960:

  1. Indonesia: 55
  2. Japan: 40
  3. US: 39 (mostly volcanic areas in and around Hawaii, Alaska, and Pacific territories)
  4. Russia: 27
  5. Chile: 19
  6. Papua New Guinea: 13
  7. Ecuador: 12

As of 2013, the following are considered Earth's most active volcanoes:

  • Kīlauea, the famous Hawaiian volcano, was in nearly continuous, effusive eruption (in which lava steadily flows onto the ground) between 1983 through 2018, and had the longest-observed lava lake.
  • Mount Etna and nearby Stromboli, two Mediterranean volcanoes.
  • Piton de la Fournaise, in Réunion, erupts frequently enough to be a tourist attraction.

As of 2010, the longest ongoing (but not necessarily continuous) volcanic eruptive phases are:

Other highly active volcanoes include:

  • Mauna Loa in Hawaii is the largest active volcano in the world. Its summit is more than 4 kilometers above sea level, and 17 kilometers above its base in the sea floor.
  • Mount Nyiragongo and its neighbor, Nyamuragira, are Africa's most active volcanoes.
    Lava Lake Nyiragongo 2
    Nyiragongo's lava lake
  • Erta Ale, in the Afar Triangle, has maintained a lava lake since at least 1906.
  • Mount Erebus, in Antarctica, has maintained a lava lake since at least 1972.
  • Mount Merapi
  • Whakaari / White Island, has been in a continuous state of releasing volcanic gas since before European observation in 1769.
  • Ol Doinyo Lengai
  • Ambrym
  • Arenal Volcano
  • Pacaya
  • Klyuchevskaya Sopka
  • Sheveluch

Holocene volcanoes with large populations within 5 km:

Michoacan-Guanajuato volcano in Mexico and Tatun Volcanic Group in Taiwan both have more than 5 million people living within 5 kilometers of the volcano. Campi Flegrei in Italy and Ilopango in El Salvador both have populations of over 2 million people living within 5 kilometers of the volcanoes. Hainan Volcanic Field in China, San Pablo Volcanic Field in the Philippines, Ghegham Volcanic Ridge in Armenia, Dieng Volcanic Complex, in Indonesia, and Auckland Volcanic Field in New Zealand all have over 1 million people living within 5 kilometers of each volcano.

By country

Arenal Volcano - Costa Rica - by Ardyiii
Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

Costa Rica

  • Rincón de la Vieja, a stratovolcano
  • Arenal, a stratovolcano
  • Poás, a stratovolcano
  • Irazu, a stratovolcano
  • Turrialba, a stratovolcano



Iceland's Fagradalsfjall volcano
Iceland's Fagradalsfjall volcano
Hekla Iceland 2005
Hekla, stratovolcano in Iceland



  • Askja, a stratovolcano
  • Bardarbunga, a stratovolcano
  • Brennisteinsfjoll, crater rows
  • Eldey, fissure vent
  • Esjufjoll, stratovolcano
  • Eyjafjallajokull, stratovolcano
  • Fagradalsfjall, fissure vent
  • Fremrinamar, stratovolcano
  • Grimsnes, volcanic field
  • Grimsvotn, caldera
  • Heidarspordar, fissure vent
  • Hekla, stratovolcano
  • Helgrindur, volcanic field
  • Hengill, crater rows
  • Hofsjokull, fissure vent
  • Hromundartindur, stratovolcano
  • Katla, fissure vent
  • Kolbeinsey Ridge, fissure vent
  • Krafla, caldera
  • Krysuvik-Trolladyngja, crater rows
  • Kverkfjoll, stratovolcano
  • Ljosufjoll, volcanic field
  • Oddnyjarhnjukur-Langjokull, fissure vent
  • Oraefajokull, stratovolcano
  • Prestahnukur, fissure vent
  • Reykjanes, crater rows
  • Snaefell, stratovolcano
  • Snaefellsjokull, stratovolcano
  • Theistareykir, shield volcano
  • Thordarhyrna, stratovolcano
  • Tindfjallajokull, stratovolcano
  • Tjornes Fracture Zone, fissure vent
  • Torfajokull, stratovolcano
  • Tungnafellsjokull, stratovolcano
  • Vestmannaeyjar, fissure vents
Aerial image of Stromboli (view from the northeast)
Aerial image of Stromboli (view from the northeast)
Etna-Italy - Creative Commons by gnuckx (4276734533)
Mount Etna in Italy



  • Campi Flegrei, a caldera
  • Campi Flegrei del Mar di Sicilia, a volcanic field
  • Colli Albani, a caldera
  • Etna, a stratovolcano
  • Ischia, a volcanic complex
  • Lipari, a stratovolcano
  • Marsili, a volcanic complex
  • Palinuro, a volcanic compound
  • Panarea, a stratovolcano
  • Pantelleria, a shield volcano
  • Stromboli, a stratovolcano
  • Vesuvius, a stratovolcano
  • Vulcano, a stratovolcano
Japan, Tochigi- Nikko, Nantai volcano 2013
Nantai volcano, Tochigi-Nikko, Japan in 2013
Yotei Volcano on Hokkaido in Japan 20101025
Yotei Volcano on Hokkaido in Japan


See list of volcanoes in Japan for more information


  • Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group
  • Mount Eniwa, a stratovolcano
  • Mount E, stratovolcano
  • Mount Iō, volcanic complex
  • Mount Meakan, stratovolcano
  • Mount Oakan, stratovolcano/lava dome
  • Mount Iō, stratovolcano
  • Kuttara Caldera, caldera
  • Mashū Caldera, caldera
  • Nipesotsu-Maruyama Volcanic Group, composed of stratovolcanoes and lava domes
  • Niseko Volcanic Group, composed of stratovolcanoes and lava domes
  • Oshima-Ōshima
  • Mount Rausu, stratovolcano
  • Mount Rishiri, stratovolcano
  • Mount Hokkaidō-Komagatake, stratovolcano
  • Mount Tarumae, stratovolcano
  • Mount Tenchō [ja]
  • Mount Usu, stratovolcano
  • Mount Yōtei, stratovolcano


  • Abu Volcano Group, shield volcanoes
  • Mount Adatara, stratovolcano
  • Mount Akagi, stratovolcano
  • Mount Akandana
  • Mount Akita-Komagatake, stratovolcano
  • Mount Akita-Yakeyama, stratovolcano
  • Mount Asama, volcanic complex
  • Mount Azuma, stratovolcano
  • Mount Bandai, stratovolcano
  • Mount Chōkai, stratovolcano
  • Mount Fuji, stratovolcano
  • Mount Hachimantai, stratovolcano
  • Mount Hakkōda, volcanic complex
  • Mount Hakone, volcanic complex
  • Mount Haku, stratovolcano
  • Mount Haruna, stratovolcano
  • Hijiori Caldera
  • Mount Hiuchigatake, stratovolcano
  • Mount Iwaki, stratovolcano
  • Izu-Tōbu volcano Group
  • Mount Iwate, stratovolcano complex
  • Mount Kurikoma
  • Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, stratovolcano
  • Mount Myōkō, stratovolcano
  • Narugo, stratovolcano
  • Mount Nasu, complex volcano
  • Mount Niigata-Yakeyama, stratovolcano
  • Mount Nikkō-Shirane, stratovolcano
  • Mount Norikura, stratovolcano
  • Numazawa [ja]
  • Mount Ontake, stratovolcano
  • Mount Osore
  • Mount Sanbe [ja]
  • Mount Takahara [ja]
  • Midagahara, lava plateau
  • Tokachidake Volcano Group, stratovolcano
  • Towada Caldera, caldera
  • Mount Yake, stratovolcano
  • Kita-Yatsugatake (Northern Yatsugatake Volcanic Group)
  • Mount Zaō, complex volcano

Izu Islands

  • Aogashima, volcanic island
  • Bayonnaise Rocks, volcanic rocks
  • Hachijōjima, volcanic island
  • Izu-Ōshima, volcanic island
  • Kōzushima, volcanic island
  • Mikurajima, volcanic island
  • Miyakejima, volcanic island
  • Niijima, volcanic island
  • Sofugan (A.K.A. Lot's Wife), volcanic island, basalt pillar
  • Sumisujima (A.K.A. Smith Rocks), volcanic island
  • Toshima, volcanic island
  • Torishima (A.K.A. Izu-Torishima), volcanic island
  • Ogasawara Archipelago:
  • Nishinoshima, volcanic island
  • Fukutoku-Okanoba, submarine volcano
  • Funka Asane
  • Iōjima (Iwo Jima), volcanic island
  • Kaitoku Seamount, submarine volcano
  • Kaikata Seamount
  • Kita-Fukutokutai
  • Minami-Hiyoshi Seamount, submarine volcano
  • Nikkō Seamount, submarine volcano


  • Wakamiko Caldera [ja]
  • Mount Aso (A.K.A. Aso Caldera), caldera
  • Fukue Volcano Group
  • Ikeda (Part of Ibusuki Volcanic Field), caldera
  • Mount Kaimon, stratovolcano
  • Mount Kirishima
  • Mount Kujū, stratovolcano
  • Sakurajima, Somma-stratovolcano
  • Lake Sumiyoshi [ja]
  • Yonemaru [ja]
  • Mount Tsurumi and Mount Garan, lava dome
  • Mount Unzen, complex stratovolcano
  • Mount Yufu, stratovolcano

Ryūkyū Islands

  • Submarine Volcano NNE of Iriomotejima, submarine volcano
  • Iōtorishima, volcanic island
  • Kikai Caldera, caldera
  • Kuchinoshima
  • Kuchinoerabujima
  • Nakanoshima, volcanic island
  • Suwanosejima
  • Yokoatejima, volcanic island
Colima Volcano Mexican Flag
Colima volcano in Mexico
Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico



Mayon Volcano and the Sleeping Lion
Mayon volcano in the Philippines
Taal Volcano - 12 January 2020
Taal volcano, Philippines



  • Ambalatungan Group, a volcanic compound
  • Apo, a stratovolcano
  • Babuyan Claro, a stratovolcano
  • Balut, a stratovolcano
  • Mount Banahaw, volcanic complex
  • Biliran, volcanic compound
  • Mount Bulusan, stratovolcano
  • Cabalían, stratovolcano
  • Cagua, stratovolcano
  • Camiguin, stratovolcano
  • Camiguin de Babuyanes, stratovolcano
  • Cuernos de Negros, volcanic complex
  • Didicas, volcanic compound
  • Iraya, stratovolcano
  • Iriga, stratovolcano
  • Isarog, stratovolcano
  • Kalatungan, stratovolcano
  • Kanlaon, stratovolcano
  • Laguna Caldera, a caldera
  • Leonard Range, stratovolcano
  • Mahagnao, stratovolcano
  • Makaturing, stratovolcano
  • Malindang, stratovolcano
  • Malindig, stratovolcano
  • Mandalagan, volcanic complex
  • Masaraga, stratovolcano
  • Matutum, stratovolcano
  • Mayon, stratovolcano
  • Musuan, a lava dome
  • Parker, stratovolcano
  • Patoc, stratovolcano
  • Pinatubo, stratovolcano
  • Pocdol Mountains, a volcanic compound
  • Ragang, stratovolcano
  • San Pablo Volcanic Field, a volcanic field
  • Silay, stratovolcano
  • Taal, a caldera

United States

Kilauea Fissure 8 cone erupting on 6-28-2018
Kilauea Fissure 8 cone erupting in Hawaii



Mt. Hood (Hood River County, Oregon scenic images) (hooDA0015a)
Mount Hood in Oregon
Mount Bachelor closeup


Mount St. Helens, Washington
Mount Rainier 7431
Mount Rainier, Washington


Mount Shasta from I-5
Mount Shasta, California


See also

  • Monogenetic volcanic field
  • Polygenetic volcanic field
  • Category:Active volcanoes
  • Category:Potentially active volcanoes
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