Natural Disasters

DEADLIEST VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS IN HISTORY | by Lion-El Njoku | Oct, 2021

A volcano is simply an opening or rupture in the earth’s surface that allows magma (hot liquid and semi-liquid rock), volcanic ashes, and gases to escape. They are generally found where tectonic plates either come together or separate, deep below the surface of the earth, but they can also be in the middle of such plates due to volcanic hotspots. Noteworthy is the fact that similar to the Richter scale for earthquakes, the size of a volcanic eruption is measured using the Volcanic Explosive Index (VEI). This VEI ranks Volcanic explosions from 1 to 8, ranging from a minimal outpouring of lava to super-sized explosions. Therefore, from an eruption’s magnitude to its death toll, to its economic cost, the impact of a volcanic explosion can be enormous. So, putting these and other factors into consideration, we present to you, the deadliest volcanic eruptions history has ever recorded based on their respective VEI:

Nyiragongo is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because if it’s particularly fast-moving lava that can flow at a speed of about 100km per hour. On 17th January 2002, after months of increased seismic activity, a 13km fissure opened in the south flank of the volcano, spreading in a few hours and spilling lava to the outskirts of the city of Goma, the provincial capital, directly causing its wake, the death of 30 people when more than 500 houses were flattened by the lava flow, and eventually reaching lake Kivu, where it raised concerns that the lava might cause gas-saturated waters deep in the lake to rise to the surface, releasing lethally large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane. This, however, did not happen but about 245 people died in the eruption from asphyxiation by carbon dioxide and buildings collapsing due to lava and earthquakes, with lava covering 13 percent of Goma, and nearly 120,000 left homeless.


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