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The 11 Largest Volcanic Eruptions in History

Volcanic eruptions leave me in awe for many reasons - their sheer power, destructive force and ability to both influence global weather and reshape entire landscapes cannot do anything else other than leave you humbled: 

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11. Yellowstone, USA - 640,000 years ago

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Yellowstone National Park is home to some pristine natural beauty, however the entire park is an active volcano with 1 in 700,000 odds that it might go off this year. The crater that the last major eruption left behind measures 30 by 45 miles across.

 

10. Huaynaputina, Peru - 1600 AD 

Run For Your Lives! The Largest Volcanic Eruption In History

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This volcano was the site of the largest volcanic eruption ever to occur in South America. Mud flows reached as far as 75 miles away. The summers that ensued after the eruption were some of the world's coldest for 500 years. Everything within a 20-mile radius is still buried under a blanket of ash to this very day. 

 

9. Krakatoa, Indonesia - 1883 AD 

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When Krakatoa erupted in 1883, it created a tsunami that had waves peaking at 140 feet high, killing 34,000 people in the process. The eruption also completely destroyed the island that once hosted the volcano. 

 

8. Santa Maria, Guatemala - 1902 AD 

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When Santa Maria erupted after it lay dormant for 500 years, it was bound to be a big one. The crater the 1902 eruption left behind is almost a mile across. The volcano has shown continuous activity in the 110 years that have passed since its last major eruption. 

 

7. Novarupta, Alaska - 1912 AD 

Run For Your Lives! The Largest Volcanic Eruption In History

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Novarupta is one of the volcanoes that lines the notorious Pacific Ring of Fire. It was the setting for the single biggest volcanic blast of the 20th Century, which sent three cubic miles of magma and ash into the air. The ash covered a 3,000-square-mile area in over a foot deep of ash. 

 

6. Mount Pinatubo, The Philippines, 1991 AD 

Run For Your Lives! The Largest Volcanic Eruption In History

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One of the more recent eruptions on our list took place at Mount Pinatubo in 1991. The resulting column of ash rose 22 miles into the atmosphere. So much ash fell on buildings in the vicinity that some of their roofs collapsed. Global temperatures also dropped by one degree Fahrenheit in the year following the eruption. 

 

5. Ambrym, Republic of Vanuatu - 50 AD 

Run For Your Lives! The Largest Volcanic Eruption In History

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Ambrym Island is one of the most volcanically active places on earth. It was the scene of a gigantic eruption in 50 AD, however the volcano had also erupted nearly 50 times in less than 250 years. The ancient eruption formed a caldera that's 7.5 miles wide, which is still visible today. 

 

4. Ilopango, El Salvador - 450 AD 

Run For Your Lives! The Largest Volcanic Eruption In History

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Ilopango has only erupted twice in its history, with the first being particularly calamitous. It destroyed many early Mayan cities, and covered much of El Salvador in pumice and ash. A caldera, which is located at the summit of the volcano, is home to one the country's largest lakes. 

 

3. Mount Thera, Greece - 1610 BC

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The force of several hundred atomic bombs is thought to have rocked Santorini, the island where Mount Thera is located. In fact, some believe that it was the single strongest volcanic explosion ever to occur. Massive amounts of sulfur dioxide were spewed into the atmosphere, severely disrupting the Minoan civilization thought to live on the island at the time. 

 

2. Changbaishan, China - 1000 AD

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Changbaishan Volcano, also known as Baitoushan, spewed volcanic material all the way to Japan, which is some 750 miles away, during its largest eruption. The caldera that resulted from it is three miles across and almost half a mile deep. Sky Lake, which is pictured, is a highly popular tourist destination. Changbaishan last erupted in 1702. 

 

1. Mount Tambora, Indonesia - 1815 AD 

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The 1815 eruption at Mount Tambora is the largest ever recorded by humans, rated "super-colossal" on the Volcanic Explosivity Index. It was heard 1,200 miles away on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and it is believed to have killed 71,000 people. The volcano is still active today. 

Content Source: LiveScience
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