7 Devastating Volcanic Eruptions That Reshaped the World

Did you know about ALL of these devastating volcanic eruptions?

Welcome to a journey through the stormy history of our planet, where nature’s fury has left an unforgettable mark on civilizations across the globe. Today, Devastating Disasters is delving into the cataclysmic events that have shaped our world: volcanic eruptions.

These awe-inspiring displays of geological power have not only fascinated the imagination but also altered the course of history in profound ways.

From ancient times to the modern era, volcanoes have released their fury with unmatched ferocity, leaving destruction in their wake. Join us as we uncover the stories behind 7 of the most devastating volcanic eruptions in recorded history.

Prepare to be mesmerized by the raw power of nature as we journey through time to explore these unforgettable moments of devastation and resilience.

Devastating Volcanic Eruption
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Laki, Iceland, 1783

The destruction of the Laki eruption was felt globally for years after it happened. It lasted eight months, casting roughly 14.7 km3 of lava. Toxic gases poisoned harvests and killed 60% of Iceland’s pasturing livestock.

The volcano emitted enough SO2 to cause acid rain and global temperatures to plunge. The eruption resulted in a famine that extinguished more than 10,000 Icelandic people, approximately a quarter of the country’s population at the time.

As Laki’s toxic eruption made its way south, it killed 23,000 people in Britain and caused a famine in Egypt. Some environmental historians even believe that the European famine caused by the eruption may have motivated the French Revolution.

Mt Tambora, Indonesia, 1815

Mt. Tambora is the deadliest volcanic eruption in more recent human history, claiming the lives of over 120,000 people. In 1815, Tambora erupted, sending volcanic ash 25 miles into the sky. It was the most powerful eruption in roughly 500 years.

When it entered the ocean, the sheer force of the pyroclastic flow generated the creation of a series of towering tsunamis. Due to the massive amount of SO2 emitted, the planet experienced a severe temperature drop that led to global crop failures.

Thousands starved to death in China, and typhus spread all over Europe. In the two years that followed the explosion, the price of grain in places like Switzerland more than quadrupled.

Ilopango, El Salvador, 450AD

The first known volcanic eruption of Ilopango in 450 AD is the second-largest eruption in the last 200,000 years. This devastating volcanic eruption was so big that it’s thought to have destroyed numerous Mayan cities.

The skies were filled with dust and ash for more than a year afterward. The volcanic eruption is estimated to have killed more than 100,000 people and displaced over 400,000.

It’s believed to be the cause of the global cooling of AD 535-536, which led to losses of crops from Rome to China.

Devastating Volcanic Eruption
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Santa Maria, Guatemala, 1902

For hundreds, possibly even thousands of years, the Santa Maria volcano stayed inactive. All the way up until 1902, when a series of earthquakes in the Central American territory caused it to violently erupt.

The result was at least 5,000 people dead, though many believe this number to be greatly understated. The volcanic eruption created a column 18 miles tall, producing about 4 miles of pyroclastic debris over the course of 19 days.

The ash from the eruption blackened the skies of Guatemala for many days and made its way all the way to San Francisco. It’s believed to have cost well over $1 million in damages.

Mount Pinatubo, Philippines, 1991

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo is regarded as the second-largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. Mount Pinatubo spewed over one cubic mile of material, and the ash cloud rose up to 22 miles.

Even though the area around Mount Pinatubo was densely populated, with the American military base and Clark Air Base being nearby, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology had been closely monitoring Mount Pinatubo and saving thousands of lives.

Locals and the entirety of Clark Air Base were evacuated, but 800 people still perished. Mount Pinatubo’s eruption caused $700 million in damage, including 16 American military aircraft, totaling $100 million and $250 million in property damage.

Novarupta, Alaska, 1912

The blast of Novarupta was the largest volcanic eruption in recent history in the United States of America. It erupted 3 miles of magma, which turned into over 7 miles of ash that blanketed the nearby region. The ash from Novarupta was cast over 100,000 feet in the air.

But even though it produced such a massive eruption, thankfully, there were no casualties. The residents and people who worked in what is now known as Katmai National Park and Preserve had felt unusual tremors for weeks before and evacuated in time.

The Novarupta volcanic eruption lasted for 60 hours and blocked out the sun entirely.

Devastating Volcanic Eruption
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Mt. Vesuvius, Italy, 79 AD

Mount Vesuvius is possibly the most famous volcano on our list. It’s been vastly studied and featured numerous times in works of pop culture.

The most infamous eruption of Mount Vesuvius happened sometime in the autumn of 79 AD and is known for completely coating the city of Pompeii. The blanket of ash over Pompeii preserved many structures, bodies, and artifacts.

Before the eruption, no evidence exists that anyone knew Mount Vesuvius was a volcano. Since that time, Mount Vesuvius has erupted multiple times and is still active.

Pompeii was not the only Roman village buried by Mount Vesuvius’ debris, though. Oplontis, Herculaneum, and Stabiae were also covered.

No one knows how many people perished during the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius, but estimates range anywhere between 13,000 to 30,000 people. To get a better understanding of this devastating event, watch “Pompeii” on Amazon now!

Be sure to share your thoughts with us on these devastating volcanic eruptions before you leave. And if you liked this post, Devastating Disasters has many more to share with you. For instance, check out: 4 Historically Hidden Facts About Devastating Events

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