If volcanoes were comic or fantasy villains, they’d be more akin to Marvel’s cosmic entities or Lovecraftian horrors than the puny likes of Magneto or, uh… The Slug (I don’t know many Marvel villains). They strike only every few thousand years before slipping back into a long slumber, lurking for centuries as humanity slowly forgets the horrors they can inflict, inching closer to the looming mountains with each passing year, setting up cities at their very feet. Then, when mankind least expects it – just chillin’ ‘n shit as Dave Chappelle might say – the volcano strikes again, blasting molten rock and ash over miles and miles, smothering out whole cities in the (cosmically speaking) blink of an eye.
Yet, even as we know intellectually that volcanoes are kind of a big deal, we tend to look up at them less with abject horror and awe and more with shouts of, “Hey, check out that big-ass rock!”
Well people, we’ve got news for you: There are at least six big-ass rocks capable of blotting out not just entire cities, but entire civilizations and possibly humanity itself and you’ll never guess which disaster-prone island nation has the most.
Apparently, this volcano tends to explode a lot, and it’s also probably the volcano that comes to mind when you think of civilization-destroying acts of nature. It’s the one that obliterated Pompeii and, by extension, gave us those creepy ash people and also that movie starring Jon “ You know nutttttttthiiiiing ” Snow, or… Jake Gillenhal… or that dude from Sons of Anarchy or whatever; point being it was a forgettable film, but I digress.
Supposedly, Japanese volcanologist, Nakada Setsuya, predicts there may be another eruption of Mt. Vesuvius any day now, but take that with a grain of salt: We’re pretty sure a lot of volcanologists would be out of a job if they didn’t occasionally go around causing a panic and literally scaring up research funding.
Another one that’s typified by frequent eruptions and too hipster to conform to your whole “Mount” naming scheme , Katla is located in Southern Iceland. Wikipedia ensures us that Katla has not erupted “violently” in 95 years. Reassuring!
Supposedly the true danger of a Katla eruption comes from the ice cover surrounding the mountain… er, sorry, volcano… which, in the event of a violent eruption, could melt and send enough water pouring into the world’s oceans to accelerate the effects of global warming by a good hundred thousand years or so.
You all probably saw this one coming. Mount Fuji, in Yamanashi (or Shizuoka, depending who you ask… it’s a long story), Japan, is kind of famous for all those, “It’s gonna blow any day now!” false starts and apocalyptic predictions over the years from those wily volcanologists we mentioned above. Side note: We bet volcanologists are bummers to have at dinner parties.
A lot of smart people agree that the 2011 East Japan Earthquake has made Mount Fuji even more unstable than ever before. Fuji’s last eruption apparently also followed a major earthquake and basically destroyed Tokyo. Obviously, Tokyo is way more urbanized nowadays and houses a disproportionate percentage of the Japanese population, which means a Fuji eruption could more or less wipe out Japan as we know it in an instant.
The Yellowstone Caldera
According to a crudely-drawn diagram I saw on Wikipedia (and, whatever, experts, I guess), Yellowstone National Park is actually sitting on top of a giant lake of lava and probably at least a dozen or so demons who like to chill out and go fishing down there. The giant lava lake is constantly threatening to just burst up out of the earth in a giant super-eruption that could wipe out large swaths of North America. The good news is, in planetary terms, “threatening to” is pretty relative. The bad news is, between the years of 2004 and 2008, the caldera floor beneath the park pushed up at a rate three times higher than any years ever recorded before.
Located on the Canary Islands, Spain, Cumbre Vieja is a volcanic ridge – which we guess is, like, not just one volcano but a whole bunch of them all daisy-chained together for maximum damage. The La Palma volcanic island, one of the most active in the ridge, last erupted in 1971 and is apparently due for another in the next 150 years. That eruption will carry with it a chance of a large portion of the volcanic mountain separating and falling off into the ocean, creating a megatsunami and possible simultaneous sharknado.
Such a megatsunami would, unsurprisingly, doom a lot of people living on the coasts of the world. The sharknado would also cause untold damage, the SyFy channel assures us.
The Aira Caldera in Kyushu, Japan and the no-doubt perky and always optimistic volcanologist Keiko Suzuki says in a 2014 Kobe study that it could erupt within the next 100 years, potentially with enough force to devastate the entire island of Japan. Suzuki and his colleague warn such an eruption could happen at any moment and without warning. Like right… NOW! Okay… NOW!
Anyway, keep your guard up, folks.
Feature Photo: Wikipedia