A volcano is basically a natural opening in the crust of the earth where magma (lava), steam (along with other gases) and ash can escape. A volcano is like a chimney which transfers the molten rock, found in the depths of the earth, to the surface. Most volcanoes are dormant or extinct, which means that they have not erupted for a very long time. However, an volcano is classified active if it is erupting lava, releases gas or is actively generating seismic activity. There are a number of active volcanoes found around the planet and some of these are either currently erupting or have erupted in recent years. Let’s find out how many active volcanoes are found on the planet.
How many of Earth’s volcanoes are active?
There is some debate regarding the definition of an active volcano, which means that it is hard to determine an exact number of active volcanoes. Most scientists consider a volcano active if it has erupted in the last 10,000 years and by using this definition there are about 1500 active volcanoes on Earth. However, another definition of active only traces recorded history (also known as historical time). This is used in the Catalogue of the Active Volcanoes of the World, which is written by the International Association of Volcanology, and it states that there are about 500 active volcanoes.
The most active volcanoes on the planet are:
K?lauea – A very famous volcano located in Hawaii. It has been in continuous eruption for more than 30 years! It is estimated that this volcano has produced a massive 3.5 square kilometers (1 cubic mile) of lava during this time.
Mount Etna and Stromboli (pictured) – Located in the Mediterranean and have erupted many times in recorded history.
Mount Yasur – Located in Vanuatu and has been erupting almost continuously for approximately 800 years! It is a famous tourist attraction because it is one of the most accessible active volcanoes in the world.