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13 Volcanoes That Could Erupt Next—or Already Are

Volcanoes rarely erupt without some kind of warning—swelling from magma, earthquakes, ash clouds. Geologists are closely watching these active ones, some of which are already erupting.

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Laval flows at Hawaii Volcano National ParkRobert Crow/Shutterstock


Bagana is one of seven active volcanoes on Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville Island. It has erupted 22 times since 1842—usually explosively, and sometimes with emissions of lava. This designated cinder cone volcano has been erupting almost constantly since 1972, and as of early December of 2018, it was releasing ash and gas. Check out 13 volcanoes you can actually visit.

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Volcano, Siau, Indonesia - 07 Feb 2019Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock


In late December 2018, volcano scientists raised the alert level for Karangetang (aka Api Siau) in Indonesia, which is situated along the Pacific Ocean’s so-called Ring of Fire. A sustained uptick in earthquake activity represented enough “increased activity” from November’s reports of volcanic ash plumes; as of this writing, the volcano has Level 3 (out of 4) alert status.

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Kilauea Volcano taken from a helicopter.Dan Lee/Shutterstock


Hawaii’s extremely active shield volcano—a type composed almost entirely of active lava flows—is temporarily on hiatus. That’s following its high lava flow activity for three months during the summer of 2018 that led to a collapse of its summit crater, says Science News. It’s resting at Level 2 now, but residents of Hawaii know from past experience that low activity (in this case, smoking a bit and showing signs of ground swelling from underground magma) doesn’t mean it will stay quiet. Here are 20 great reasons to visit Maui.

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Mayon Volcano is an active stratovolcano in the province of Albay in Bicol Region, on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Renowned as the "perfect cone" because of its symmetric conical shapePuripat Lertpunyaroj/Shutterstock


Mayon in the Philippines erupted twice on the morning of December 27, 2018, spewing ash and steam plumes even as, according to Rappler, it continued to bulge with magma around its midsection. Although still only at (“moderate”) alert Level 2 as of this writing, scientists warned that it could suddenly explode. This volcano has a “permanent danger zone” of 3.7 miles, as well as an “extended danger zone” of 4.3 miles; play it safe by staying at least five miles away from this lively volcano.

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Icelandic Volcano EruptionNathan Mortimer/Shutterstock

Great Sitkin

In Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, Great Sitkin has been in “a state of volcanic unrest since September 3, 2018,” according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Although daily updates for January have logged little to no activity, it’s on watch due to small earthquakes that grumbled beneath it last August, which ultimately led to a small phreatic eruption—that is, an explosion of water and steam heated up by underground magma.

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Mount Agung Bali early in the morning as seen from air plane window.Putu Artana/Shutterstock

Mount Agung

Agung is a highly explosive volcano in Bali, Indonesia, that’s been erupting off and on for the last couple of years. It last experienced a short eruption on the evening of January 21—totaling one minute and 12 seconds, reported the Jakarta Post; it sent ash spewing and caused authorities to issue a Level 3 alert. Mount Agung erupted again on January 22, releasing an ash cloud 1.2 miles into the atmosphere. It could very likely erupt again—more significantly—sometime soon. Check out natural wonders around the world you’ve never heard of.

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Aerial view of the volcanoes and Aleutian Range of mountains in Southwest Alaska on a clear daymelissamn/Shutterstock

Mount Cleveland

A map of the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands shows a whole string of active volcanoes; of these, Mount Cleveland is currently the only one that’s at Level 3, active-watch status. According to the mountain’s Observatory page, it has “strongly elevated surface temperatures” at the summit, a gathering lava dome inside its crater, and has common “periodic explosions [that] occur without warning,”

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Mount Etna emits ash, Sicily, Italy - 27 Jan 2019Genia/IPA/Shutterstock

Mount Etna

This 10,900-foot tall stratovolcano (it’s made of layers of lava and ash) on the island of Sicily is one of the most active in the world—it erupted every year from 2014 to 2017. As of late January of this year, it was showing signs that it was active. Small earthquakes were shaking its western, southern, and eastern flanks, according to And its northeasterly crater is emitting ash plumes.

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Volcano etna eruption with explosion and ash emissionWead/Shutterstock

Mount Veniaminof

Like its Alaskan neighbor Great Sitkin, Veniaminof has been actively grumbling for months, sending out ash emissions that aren’t yet considered significant enough to warrant more than a Level 2 alert. However, it did manage to earn an Aviation Color Code of Orange (the second highest warning) in December 2018, after lava and ash plumes caused some potential hazards to airplane safety.

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Colombia Volcano, Herveo, ColombiaFernando Vergara/AP/Shutterstock

Nevada del Ruiz

This 17,320-foot stratovolcano in Columbia hadn’t erupted for 20 years when it began letting out intermittent ash emissions in 2012, according to the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program. This activity continued through 2015. Then, it picked up again in October of 2018, with seismic rumblings, and water, vapor, ash, and gas plumes.

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VARIOUS Eruption of Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano in 2007, northern Tanzania, AfricaimageBROKER/Shutterstock

Ol Doinyo Lengai

Known as the “Mountain of God to Tanzania’s Masai, Ol Doinyo Lengai developed a crater at its summit after it last erupted in 2007. This eruption occurred after months of what an Al Jazeera report identified as seismic rumblings. It has since been slowly releasing its rare carbonatite lava into that crater and rumbling again, placing it firmly on active status. Don’t miss these colorful natural wonders around the world.

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Indonesia Volcano - Jun 2014Raka Mariko/EPA/Shutterstock

Sangeang Api

Yet another Indonesian Ring of Fire volcano—this mountain sports two active cones. In 2017, Sangeang Api experienced a mildly explosive so-called “strombolian” eruption (it tossed lava bombs a few hundred of meters into the air). The mountain has been pretty much rumbling and ash-ing off and on ever since. In October of 2018, it released a series of ash emissions—some of them stretching 7,000 feet high. Its current alert status is Level 2.

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Chile Volcano - Mar 2015Francisco Negroni/EPA/Shutterstock


After a five-week break in which this strombolian-style volcano in Chile didn’t explode once, it was back at it again on January 4, spewing 100-foot lava fountains from the top and sending ash down its flanks. Although it’s currently only at Level 2 alert status, the mountain is continuing to gather lava in the lake inside its crater; it’s also “restlessly” belching out ash. Now, make sure to add these one-of-a-kind adventures to your bucket list.

Lela Nargi
Lela Nargi is a veteran journalist covering science, sustainability, climate, and agriculture for Readers Digest, Washington Post, Sierra, NPR, The Counter, JSTOR Daily, and many other outlets. She also writes about science for kids. You can follow her on Twitter @LelaNargi.