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Internet GeoLab: Ranking Hazardous Volcanoes
Background: Some volcanoes can be explosively dangerous. Along with clouds of ash and other
volcanic debris that can linger in the air for years after an eruption, pyroclastic flows, landslides, and
mudflows are common volcanic hazards. An explosive volcano may not be a hazard to human life and
property, however, if it is located in a remote area or erupts infrequently. A number of factors must be
taken into account to determine if a particular volcano poses a risk.
Problem: Which volcanoes on our planet pose the greatest risk to human life and property?
Time: 1 class period to research, 1 class period to present
Hypothesis: Form a hypothesis about where you think the most hazardous volcanoes are located on
Earth. Think about the potential risk to people and property near the volcano when formulating your
hypothesis. Write your hypothesis on the following page.
1. You will be given the name of a potentially hazardous volcano located somewhere in the world.
Use the Internet to research and complete the table on the following page for your assigned
2. Draw a picture of your volcano on a separate 3” x 5” note card (or cut out a 3” x 5” piece of
3. Present your volcano and the information on the chart to the class. Post the picture of your
volcano in its location on our Hazardous Volcanoes world map. Please show respect to your
fellow classmates when they are presenting. After your classmates have presented their
volcanoes, complete the conclusion below.
Ranking Hazardous Volcano Table
Drawing of Volcano
Hypothesis & Conclusion
Hypothesis: My hypothesis is that most hazardous volcanoes are located:
Table: Hazardous Volcano Ranking
Volcano name
Country (and state, if in
Location of volcano
(Latitude and Longitude)
Type of Volcano (shield,
cinder-cone, composite)
Composition of lava
Date of last eruption
Eruption interval (number
of eruptions over a period
of time)
Height of volcano
Distance to nearest
population center
Approximate number of
people living near the
Type(s) of potential
Assign a human hazard
ranking (high, medium,
Conclusion: In your opinion, which volcano presented threatens the greatest number of people? Why?
Where are most of the hazardous volcanoes in the world located?
Sample Hazardous Volcano Ranking Table
Volcano name
Country (and state, if in
Location of volcano
(Latitude and Longitude)
Type of Volcano
Composition of
Date of last eruption
Eruption interval (number
of eruptions over a period
of time)
Height of volcano
Distance to nearest
population center
Approximate number of
people living near the
Type(s) of potential
Human hazard ranking
(high, medium, low)
El Chichon
17.4°N, 93.2°W
It is a composite volcano.
The volcano is made of andesite.
This volcano is highly explosive.
1060 m
Multiple small villages are located on the volcano itself.
The nearby population is estimated to be between 10,000 and 20,000
The types of hazards include pyroclastic flows, ash falls, and mudflows.
The human hazard ranking is medium because of the long eruption
Resource Sites:
Volcano World Volcano World contains images and information about past and current
volcanic eruptions. The data are searchable by country, world region, name, or description of a volcano. The fact
that the data are searchable by country makes this link a good place to start the activity. Note: Students should
consult a traditional reference source to determine the approximate number of people living near a volcano of
interest. Atlases and encyclopedias should be used for population estimates.
Smithsonian Institution - Global Volcanism Program The global volcanism program
of the national museum of natural history and the Smithsonian institution also provides data for volcanoes of the
world, searchable by volcano name or geographic region. Like volcano world, volcano data include elevation,
latitude/longitude, and type of volcano.
U.S. Geological Survey Volcano Hazards Program This web page includes background
information on volcanic hazards, including types of hazards, volcano monitoring, and emergency planning and
Volcanic Hazards, Features, and Phenomena This site
provides an exhaustive list (and definitions) of terms related to volcanic features and hazards. It is a good
reference for terminology as you search for data on a particular volcano.
Michigan Technological University Volcanoes Page This page provides
background information in volcanology. It contains several interesting links that discuss types of volcanic hazards
and hazard mitigation for volcanic regions of high population density.