Geology

The World's 6 Known Supervolcanoes 

analise.dubner
Updated October 13, 2018 1.3M views 6 items

Here is the list of all supervolcano locations in the world. Supervolcano is a word that sounds pretty silly. It's not just a regular volcano or even the biggest volcano in the world, it's super. Just super! However, they can only be defined as 'super' if they have shown themselves capable of a VEI 8 eruption. That is most definitely not silly. A VEI 8 has the capability to create extinction level events.

A supervolcano can rain superheated rocks and debris down over great distances. An eruption of that magnitude would fill the atmosphere with ash, sulfuric acid, and sulfur dioxide, and could potentially cause (and actually has, in the ancient past) a new Ice Age. Volcanic eruptions are categorized by the VEI (Volcanic Explosivity Index) on a scale that goes from 0-8, with 0 being non-explosive and 8 being a supervolcanic eruption. In other words, as life-eliminating as you can get. You might think of these kinds of super volcanoes as existing only in prehistoric times, but you would be wrong. 

On January 2017, scientists reported that Italy's Campi Flegri, a volcano in the metropolitan area of Naples, showed signs of waking up and approaching critical pressure. Also known as the Phlegraean Fields, the supervolcano region consists of 24 craters. The most recent eruption dates back to 1538, but hundreds of thousands of years ago, Campi Flegrei had a series of massive volcanic eruptions. Although many scientists and researchers doubt an eruption in our lifetimes, it's impossible to say for certain. 

If you've ever asked yourself, "Are there any supervolcanoes that threaten life in modern times?" the answer would be six. There are six known, active super volcanoes in the world today. And if you want more volcano lists check out the worst & largest volcanic eruptions in human recorded times and death by volcano lists.

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Taupo Caldera
Taupo Caldera is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The World's 6 Known Supervolcanoes
Photo: Erick Opena/Flickr

New Zealand's Taupo caldera has been filled by water, creating what many describe as one of the world's most beautiful landscapes, but the lake itself was created by a massive eruption 26,500 years ago. The caldera — the collapsed and subsided basin left after the huge eruption — became today's lake. But Taupo is not dead. The 485-square-mile caldera let loose again in the year A.D. 181, with estimates of ash and magma reaching as high as 22 cubic miles.

Today, there are plenty of signs of current volcanic activity in the form of hot springs and venting.

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Aira Caldera
Aira Caldera is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The World's 6 Known Supervolcanoes
Photo: Metaweb (FB)/Public domain

One of the most recently troubling calderas in the world is the 150-square-mile Aira caldera in southern Japan, on the edge of which sits the city of Kagoshima. 22,000 years ago 14 cubic miles of material burped out of the ground and formed the Aira caldera, which is now largely Kagoshima Bay. That is equal to about 50 Mount St. Helens eruptions.

The Sakura-jima volcano, which forms part of the Aira caldera, has been active on and off for the past century and still causes earthquakes today, indicating that the caldera itself is far from sleeping.