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The 11 Biggest Volcanic Eruptions in History

Mt. Tambora, Sumbawa Island, Indonesia - 1815 VEI 7

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(Image credit: NASA.)

The explosion of Mount Tambora is the largest ever recorded by humans, ranking a 7 (or "super-colossal") on the Volcanic Explosivity Index, the second-highest rating in the index. The volcano, which is still active, is one of the tallest peaks in the Indonesian archipelago.

The eruption reached its peak in April 1815, when it exploded so loudly that it was heard on Sumatra Island, more than 1,200 miles (1,930 km) away. The death toll from the eruption was estimated at 71,000 people, and clouds of heavy ash descended on many far-away islands.