161 U.S. volcanoes pose potential threats

161 U.S. volcanoes pose potential threats


Jan. 10, 2019

Global Korean Post


USGS Volcanic Threat Assessment updated the 2005 rankings.

In 2005, the USGS published its first national volcanic threat assessment in support of establishing a National Volcano Early Warning System.

The updated assessment released  finds that 161 U.S. volcanoes pose potential threats to American lives and property, eight fewer than in 2005. The eighteen very highest threat volcanoes are in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Thirty-nine other volcanoes are high threat, 49 are moderate, 34 are low, and 21 are very low threat.


The United States is one of Earth’s most volcanically active countries.

Since 1980, there have been 120 eruptions and 52 episodes of notable volcanic unrest at 44 U.S. volcanoes.

The mountainous landscapes of California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaiʻi, American Samoa and the Mariana Islands are punctuated by volcanoes.


In 2018, as in 2005, Kīlauea ranked as the U.S. volcano with the highest threat score. Kīlauea is the most active U.S. volcano; it erupts fluid lava flows but is also capable of explosive eruptions.

Eleven of the eighteen very high threat volcanoes are in Washington, Oregon or California, where explosive and often snow- and ice-covered volcanoes can project hazards long distances to densely populated and highly developed areas. Five of the eighteen are in Alaska near important population centers, economic infrastructure or below busy air traffic corridors.


Several volcanoes were added to the 2018 assessment, notably these: Salton Buttes, California (high threat); Soda Lakes, Nevada (moderate threat); and Tana, Alaska (low threat). Six additional volcanoes from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, along with three volcanoes from American Samoa, were also added to the assessment. Volcanoes were also removed from the list after more sophisticated age-dating techniques found a lack of eruptive activity over the past 11,000 years.


A total of 161 volcanoes are judged to be potential threats, eight fewer than in 2005.

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