What is the largest eruption ever?
(That’s about 2,500 times more ash than Mount St. Helens erupted!)
Yellowstone has had three very large eruptions in the last 2 million years. These eruptions occurred 2.2, 1.2, and 0.6 million years ago.
Only four eruptions in the last 10,000 years have been assigned a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 7.
- Tambora, Indonesia 1815
- Baitoushan, China-Korea border, about 1050
- Kikai, Japan, about 4350 B.C.
- Crater Lake, Oregon, USA, about 4895 B.C.
A Big Ten list of eruptions based on explosive force and destruction in recent time would include:
- Tambora, Indonesia 1815: VEI=7, 92,000 casualties
- Santorini, Greece 1628 B.C.: VEI=6, unknown casualties
- Krakatau, Indonesia 1883: VEI=6, 36,400 casualties
- Santa Maria, Guatemala 1902: VEI=6, 6,000 casualties
- Mount St. Helens, USA 1980: VEI=5, 57 casualties
- Vesuvius, Italy 79: VEI=5, 3,360 casualties
- Pinatubo, Philippines 1991: VEI=5, 932 casualties
- Mount Pelee, Martinique 1902: VEI=4, 29,000 casualties
- Nevado del Ruiz, Columbia 1985: VEI=3, 23,000 casualties
- Unzen, Japan 1792: VEI=2, 15,000 casualties.
Sources of information:
Decker, R., and Decker, B., 1989, Volcanoes: W.H. Freeman, New York, 285 p.
Nuhfer, E.B., Proctor, R.J., and Moser, P.H., 1993, The citizen’s guide to geologic hazards: American Institute of Professional Geologists, Arvada, CO, 134 p.
Simkin, T., and Fiske, R.S., Krakatau 1883: The volcanic eruption and its effects: Smithsonian Institution Press: Washington, D.C., 464 p.
Simkin, T., and Siebert, L., 1994, Volcanoes of the world: Geoscience Press, Tucson, Arizona, 349 p.