Timeline of volcanism on Earth
This timeline of volcanism on Earth includes a list of major volcanic eruptions of approximately at least magnitude 6 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) or equivalent sulfur dioxide emission during the Quaternary period (from 2.58 Mya to the present). Other volcanic eruptions are also listed.
Clickable imagemap of notable volcanic eruptions. The apparent volume of each bubble is linearly proportional to the volume of tephra ejected, colour-coded by time of eruption as in the legend. Pink lines denote convergent boundaries, blue lines denote divergent boundaries and yellow spots denote hotspots.
Some eruptions cooled the global climate—inducing a volcanic winter—depending on the amount of sulfur dioxide emitted[1] and the magnitude of the eruption.[2] Before the present Holocene epoch, the criteria are less strict because of scarce data availability, partly since later eruptions have destroyed the evidence. Only some eruptions before the Neogene period (from 23 Mya to 2.58 Mya) are listed. Known large eruptions after the Paleogene period (from 66 Mya to 23 Mya) are listed, especially those relating to the Yellowstone hotspot, the Santorini caldera, and the Taupo Volcanic Zone.
Active volcanoes such as Stromboli, Mount Etna and Kīlauea do not appear on this list, but some back-arc basin volcanoes that generated calderas do appear. Some dangerous volcanoes in "populated areas" appear many times: Santorini six times, and Yellowstone hotspot 21 times. The Bismarck volcanic arc, New Britain, and the Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand, appear often too.
In addition to the events listed below, there are many examples of eruptions in the Holocene on the Kamchatka Peninsula,[3] which are described in a supplemental table by Peter Ward.[4]
Large Quaternary eruptions
Main article: List of Quaternary volcanic eruptions
The Holocene epoch begins 11,700 years BP[5] (10,000 14C years ago).
1000-2000 AD
Overview of Common Era
Main article: List of large volcanic eruptions
This is a sortable summary of 27 major eruptions in the last 2000 years with VEI ≥6, implying an average of about 1.3 per century. The count does not include the notable VEI 5 eruptions of Mount St. Helens and Mount Vesuvius. Date uncertainties, tephra volumes, and references are also not included.
Caldera/ Eruption nameVolcanic arc/ belt
or Subregion or Hotspot
VEIDateKnown/proposed consequences
Mount PinatuboLuzon Volcanic Arc61991, Jun 15Global temperature fell by 0.4 °C
NovaruptaAleutian Range61912, Jun 6
Santa MaríaCentral America Volcanic Arc61902, Oct 24
KrakatoaSunda Arc61883, Aug 26–27At least 30,000 dead
Mount TamboraLesser Sunda Islands71815, Apr 10Year Without a Summer (1816)
1808 mystery eruptionSouthwestern Pacific Ocean61808, DecA sulfate spike in ice cores
Grímsvötn and LakiIceland61783–85Mist Hardships, French Revolution
Long Island (Papua New Guinea)Bismarck Volcanic Arc61660
HuaynaputinaAndes, Central Volcanic Zone61600, Feb 19Russian famine of 1601–1603
Billy MitchellBougainville & Solomon Is.61580
10 October 1465 mystery eruptionunknown71465Possibly larger than Mount Tambora's
KuwaeNew Hebrides Arc61452–532nd pulse[27] of Little Ice Age?
QuilotoaAndes, Northern Volcanic Zone61280
Samalas (Mount Rinjani)Lombok, Lesser Sunda Islands712571257 Samalas eruption, 1st pulse[28][29] of Little Ice Age? (c.1250)
Baekdu Mountain/Tianchi eruptionChina/ North Korea border7946, Nov-947Limited regional climatic effects.[30]
Katla/Eldgjá eruptionIceland6934–940
CeborucoTrans-Mexican Volcanic Belt6930
DakatauaBismarck Volcanic Arc6800
PagoBismarck Volcanic Arc6710
Mount Churchilleastern Alaska, USA6700
Rabaul CalderaBismarck Volcanic Arc6540 (est.)Extreme weather events of 535–536
IlopangoCentral America Volcanic Arc6450
KsudachKamchatka Peninsula6240
Taupo Caldera/Hatepe eruptionTaupo Volcano7180 or 230Affected skies over Rome and China
Mount Vesuvius/Pompeii eruptionItaly579Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum
Mount Churchilleastern Alaska, USA660
AmbrymNew Hebrides Arc650
ApoyequeCentral America Volcanic Arc650 BC (±100)
Note: Caldera names tend to change over time. For example, Okataina Caldera, Haroharo Caldera, Haroharo volcanic complex, Tarawera volcanic complex had the same magma source in the Taupo Volcanic Zone. Yellowstone Caldera, Henry's Fork Caldera, Island Park Caldera, Heise Volcanic Field had all Yellowstone hotspot as magma source.
Earlier Quaternary eruptions
See also: List of Quaternary volcanic eruptions
2.588 ± 0.005 million years BP, the Quaternary period and Pleistocene epoch begin.
Large Neogene eruptions
Pliocene eruptions
See also: Large volume volcanic eruptions in the Basin and Range Province
Approximately 5.332 million years BP, the Pliocene epoch begins. Most eruptions before the Quaternary period have an unknown VEI.
Santa Rosa-Calico
Virgin Valley
Black Mountain
Silent Canyon
Timber Mountain
Long Valley
Lunar Crater
Nevada/ California:
Volcanism locations.
La Garita
Lake City
Colorado volcanism. Links: La Garita, Cochetopa and North Pass (North Pass), Lake City, and Dotsero.
New Mexico volcanism. Links: Valles, Socorro, Potrillo, Carrizozo, and Zuni-Bandera.
Miocene eruptions
The final eruptions in the creation of Banks Peninsula in New Zealand occurred about 9 million years ago.
A major eruption of Gran Canaria took place around 14 million years ago.
Approximately 23.03 million years BP, the Neogene period and Miocene epoch begin.
Volcanism before the Neogene
See also: Large volume volcanic eruptions in the Basin and Range Province
Distribution of selected hotspots. The numbers in the figure are related to the listed hotspots on Hotspot (geology).
Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI)
Main article: Volcanic Explosivity Index
VEI and ejecta volume correlation
VEITephra Volume
(cubic kilometers)
0EffusiveMasaya Volcano, Nicaragua, 1570
1>0.00001Poás Volcano, Costa Rica, 1991
2>0.001Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand, 1971
3>0.01Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia, 1985
4>0.1Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland, 2010
5>1Mount St. Helens, United States, 1980
6>10Mount Pinatubo, Philippines, 1991
7>100Mount Tambora, Indonesia, 1815
8>1000Yellowstone Caldera, United States, Pleistocene
Volcanic dimming
Main article: Global dimming
The global dimming through volcanism (ash aerosol and sulfur dioxide) is quite independent of the eruption VEI.[101][102][103] When sulfur dioxide (boiling point at standard state: -10 °C) reacts with water vapor, it creates sulfate ions (the precursors to sulfuric acid), which are very reflective; ash aerosol on the other hand absorbs Ultraviolet.[104] Global cooling through volcanism is the sum of the influence of the global dimming and the influence of the high albedo of the deposited ash layer.[105] The lower snow line and its higher albedo might prolong this cooling period.[106] Bipolar comparison showed six sulfate events: Tambora (1815), Cosigüina (1835), Krakatoa (1883), Agung (1963), and El Chichón (1982), and the 1808 mystery eruption.[107] And the atmospheric transmission of direct solar radiation data from the Mauna Loa Observatory (MLO), Hawaii (19°32'N) detected only five eruptions:[108]
But very large sulfur dioxide emissions overdrive the oxidizing capacity of the atmosphere. Carbon monoxide's and methane's concentration goes up (greenhouse gases), global temperature goes up, ocean's temperature goes up, and ocean's carbon dioxide solubility goes down.[1]
Map gallery
See also
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