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50 Amazing Volcano Facts

Supervolcano

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Around 70,000 years ago, the Earth was rocked by the largest volcanic eruption to have occurred in the past 2 million years. (Image credit: Image courtesy of NASA/GSFC/MITI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and the U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team.)

Modern humans have never witnessed a supervolcano eruption. The planet's most recent supervolcano eruption happened about 74,000 years ago in Indonesia.

Largest hotspring

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Grand Prismatic Hot Spring. (Image credit: NPS.)

At Yellowstone, the Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world.

Volcanic bomb

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These basaltic lava bombs were erupted by Mauna Kea Volcano, Hawai`i. (Image credit: Photograph by J.P. Lockwood on July 10, 1982.)

A volcanic bomb is a lava fragment that is rounded as it flies through the air.

Long history

Volcano Mount Etna photographed by satellite.

Mount Etna, snapped on June 26, 2012 (Image credit: NASA.)

Mount Etna has one of the longest documented histories of activity on Earth. Humans have been noting its eruptions since 1500 B.C.

Activity galore

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Mount Etna at the height of its latest magnificent display, on April 1. (Image credit: Boris Behncke.)

Sicily's Mount Etna is Italy's most active volcano.

Large and in charge

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(Image credit: Jeff Schmaltz MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA-GSFC)

Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe.

Yellowstone

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Map of post-caldera lava flows from Yellowstone volcano. Flow dated at 72,000 years erupted as a single event, others were likely formed from multiple eruptions. (Image credit: USGS/Yellowstone Volcano Observatory)

The Yellowstone National Park area overlies the Yellowstone Caldera, an active supervolcano that last erupted many thousands of years ago but still fuels some 10,000 geothermal features (geysers and hot springs) that's half of the world's total.

Phreatic eruptions

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Phreatic eruption at the summit of Mount St. Helens, Washington. Hundreds of these steam-driven explosive eruptions occurred as magma steadily rose into the cone and boiled groundwater. These phreatic eruptions preceded the volcano's plinian eruption on 18 May 1980. (Image credit: Photograph by D.A. Swanson on 4 April 1980.)

Phreatic eruptions are stream-driven eruptions that happen when water beneath or above the ground is heated up, potentially causing it to boil and "flash to steam," creating an explosion, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Ring of fire

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(Image credit: USGS.)

The infamous Pacific Ring of Fire is a string of volcanoes strewn around the perimeter of the Pacific Ocean that produces some of the world's most dramatic and dangerous eruptions. This perimeter is where many plates subduct beneath one another.

Three-quarters of the world

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(Image credit: USGS.)

The Pacific Ring of Fire is home to 452 volcanoes that's 75 percent of the world's active and dormant volcanoes.