Man has long been in awe of the world’s colossal and powerful volcanoes. While some lay dormant, others remain active, threatening to explode at any time. These astonishing ruptures in the Earth’s crust are mostly found in areas where the planet’s tectonic plates meet, creating an opening through which molten lava, ash and various noxious gases are released from magma chambers deep below the ground. This blog will take a closer look at some of the world’s most spectacular volcanoes – all of which can be observed on exciting cruise excursions in locations across the globe.
Mount Vesuvius, Italy
Mount Vesuvius – one of the world’s most well-known volcanoes – lies in the Gulf of Naples on Italy’s Mediterranean coastline. This dramatic stratovolcano is famous for its AD 79 eruption, which led to the simultaneous destruction and preservation of the Roman city of Pompeii. Whilst completely obliterating the large parts of the surrounding region, Vesuvius’ layers of ash actually preserved the city, creating one of the world’s most significant archaeological sites.
This towering natural landmark is currently viewed as the most dangerous volcano is the world, due to its recent eruptions and the large concentration of around 3 million people living in its shadow. Although the height of Mount Vesuvius is subject to change – depending on its eruptions – it currently stands at over 1200 metres tall. Excursions from Naples are often available to cruisers, offering the chance to see this renowned lava-spewing giant up close.
Santorini caldera, Greece
The picturesque Greek island group of Santorini in the southern Aegean Sea is actually a stunning caldera rising up from beneath the ocean. Calderas are usually formed by the collapse of land after a volcanic eruption, similar to volcanic craters. The Santorini caldera is a huge natural landmark, measuring around 12 kilometres across and 7 kilometres wide, surrounded by cliffs up to 300 metres in height.
This particularly caldera is made up of four overlapping shield volcanoes, the oldest of which is believed to be around 180,000 years old. Having erupted over 10 times during the last 500 years, researchers are well aware of the potential dangers faced by people living near to the volcano, as the last eruption was as recent as 1950, when it churned out red hot lava continuously for nearly a month.
Located in the Sunda Strait between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra, Krakatoa is best known for its catastrophic 1883 eruption, which destroyed large portions of the island and unleashed two massive tsunamis to devastating effect. This 19th century explosion is believed to have generated one of loudest sound ever heard by human ears, with reports suggesting that the blast was audible over 3000 miles away.
Krakatoa’s most recent eruption was in 2008, when a small amount of lava, rocks and gas were expelled from the main crater. Despite the fact that it was only a small eruption, residents were still advised not to go within 3 kilometres of the volcano for their own safety. Krakatoa can be seen from miles around and cruises to Indonesia are a great way to observe this colossal volcanic structure first-hand.
Mauna Loa, USA
Mauna Loa on Hawaii’s Big Island is currently considered to be a largest volcano on Earth – excluding the gigantic undersea volcanoes of the Pacific Ocean. The biggest of five volcanoes that form the Hawaiian Islands, it is estimated that Mauna Loa has been erupting for over 700,000 years and has been protruding above sea level for around 400,000 years.
The volcano’s most recent eruption occurred in 1984 without causing any fatalities. However, previous 20th century eruptions – in 1926 and 1950 – flattened local villages causing extensive damage. Mauna Loa is instantly visible upon arrival on Hawaii’s Big Island, providing a fantastic – if slightly dangerous – area of natural beauty through which cruisers can hike whilst docked on the island and appreciate spectacular views from this rocky giant.
Mount Etna, Sicily
Mount Etna is a huge, active stratovolcano located on the eastern coast of Sicily, situated close to cities of Messina and Catania. Covering an area of nearly 1200 square kilometres and standing at a dizzying height of over 3300 metres, Mount Etna is the tallest Italian mountain south of the Alps. As one of the most active volcanoes on the planet, it is constantly morphing and transforming. Despite its destructive nature, the surrounding areas are particularly fertile, home to a range of flora including beautiful vineyards and orchards.
Local people have witnessed many recent eruptions, with several taking place less than a decade ago. Although these events fortunately caused minimal damage, the volcano has caused untold devastation throughout history, wiping out nearby towns and villages with massive eruptions. Cruising to Sicily is a great way to see Mount Etna up close and hike across the region’s verdant and impressive landscape.
(1) Pastorius – wikimedia.org
(2) Navin75 – flickr.com
(3) flydime – wikipedia.org
(4) Gordon Joly – wikimedia.org
(5) Mstyslav Chernov – wikimedia.org
(6) Jespinos – wikimedia.org