The term “Decade Volcanoes” refers to a list of 16 volcanoes around the world that have been identified by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI) as high-priority targets for scientific research and monitoring due to their history of significant eruptions and their potential threat to nearby populations. The Decade Volcanoes program was initiated in 1991 as a response to the devastating eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, which highlighted the need for better monitoring and understanding of volcanic hazards.

The Decade Volcanoes serve as a global focus for volcano research and hazard mitigation efforts, and the program’s main objectives are to:

  1. Improve scientific understanding of volcanic processes.
  2. Enhance volcano monitoring and early warning systems.
  3. Promote cooperation and information sharing among scientists and institutions working on volcanic hazards.
  4. Increase public awareness of volcanic hazards and preparedness.

The 16 Decade Volcanoes, selected for their history of eruptions and proximity to populated areas, are distributed across various countries and continents. Some of the well-known Decade Volcanoes include:


Mount Vesuvius, Italy

Mount Vesuvius, Italy, is one of the most famous volcanoes in the world, known for its devastating eruption in 79 AD that buried the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Located near Naples, Vesuvius remains an active volcano that poses a significant threat to the surrounding population. Its proximity to densely populated areas highlights the importance of monitoring and preparedness for potential eruptions, making it a subject of ongoing scientific research and historical fascination.

Mount Rainier, USA

Mount Rainier, USA, is an iconic stratovolcano located in the state of Washington. Standing at 14,411 feet (4,392 meters) above sea level, it is the highest peak in the Cascade Range. While it hasn’t erupted in over a century, Mount Rainier is considered an active volcano and is closely monitored due to its proximity to major population centers like Seattle and Tacoma. The volcano’s glaciers and stunning landscapes make it a popular destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, but it also serves as a reminder of the potential risks associated with volcanic activity in the region.

Mount Fuji, Japan

Mount Fuji, Japan, is a symbol of Japan and an active stratovolcano located on Honshu Island. Standing at 12,389 feet (3,776 meters) tall, it’s Japan’s highest mountain and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although it hasn’t erupted since 1707, Mount Fuji remains closely monitored, and its iconic shape attracts millions of visitors each year. It holds cultural and spiritual significance in Japanese society and continues to be a subject of scientific interest and preparedness for potential eruptions.

Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Nikon D40 Focal Length: 35mm Optimize Image: Custom Color Mode: Mode IIIa (sRGB) Long Exposure NR: Off High ISO NR: Off 2008/06/27 13:22:26.5 Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority White Balance: Auto Tone Comp.: Auto Compressed RAW (12-bit) Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern AF Mode: AF-A Hue Adjustment: 0° 1/1000 sec – F/11 Flash Sync Mode: Not Attached Saturation: Auto Color Exposure Comp.: -1.3 EV Sharpening: Medium high Lens: 17-35mm F/2.8 D Sensitivity: ISO 200 Location (Aprox.) Lat.: 0°34’17.10″S Lon.: 78°26’42.75″W Alt: 3.701 m. Range: 61 m. Head.: 174.00° Tilt: 87º Image Comment: (c) (562) 7587209

Cotopaxi, Ecuador, is one of the world’s highest active volcanoes, standing at 19,347 feet (5,897 meters) above sea level. Located in the Andes, it has a history of significant eruptions, with the last major one occurring in 1877. The surrounding region, including the capital city of Quito, is at risk from volcanic activity, making Cotopaxi an area of concern for monitoring and preparedness efforts. It is known for its stunning ice cap and a beautiful landscape that draws adventurers and mountaineers from around the world.

Teide, Spain (Canary Islands)

Teide, Spain, is a stratovolcano situated on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It stands as Spain’s highest peak, with an elevation of 12,198 feet (3,718 meters). Teide is active, and its unique geological features and landscapes have led to its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While it hasn’t erupted since 1909, ongoing monitoring is crucial due to the volcano’s proximity to the island’s population centers and its potential impact on tourism and local communities.

Mount St. Helens, USA

Mount St. Helens, USA, gained notoriety for its cataclysmic eruption in 1980, which drastically altered its shape and landscape. Located in Washington state, it is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and is monitored closely as an active volcano. The eruption led to significant devastation but also provided valuable insights into volcanic behavior and monitoring techniques. Since then, the area has seen gradual recovery and has become a center for scientific research on ecological resilience.

Popocatépetl, Mexico

Popocatépetl, Mexico, is one of the most active and iconic volcanoes in the country, located near Mexico City. Its name means “Smoking Mountain” in the Nahuatl language, and it has a history of regular eruptions. Monitoring efforts are essential due to its proximity to a densely populated region, and it serves as a reminder of the geological activity that underlies Mexico’s landscapes.

Colima, Mexico

Colima, Mexico, is another active stratovolcano located in western Mexico. It is one of the most active volcanoes in the country, with a history of frequent eruptions. Due to its potential threat to nearby communities, it is closely monitored, and its eruptions have led to evacuation and preparedness measures. Despite the risks, the surrounding region is known for its fertile volcanic soils that support agriculture and the cultivation of agave plants used to make tequila.

Galeras, Colombia

Galeras, Colombia, is an active stratovolcano located in the Andes mountain range. It has a history of eruptions dating back to the 16th century and remains a threat to nearby cities like Pasto. Scientific monitoring and early warning systems are crucial in this region to mitigate potential hazards associated with volcanic activity. The area’s natural beauty and agriculture are often juxtaposed with the volcanic risks that local communities face.

Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia

Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia, is another active stratovolcano situated in the Andes. It gained international attention after a devastating eruption in 1985, which triggered a deadly mudflow known as the Armero tragedy. The event highlighted the importance of volcanic monitoring and preparedness in the region, and ongoing efforts are in place to protect nearby communities from potential eruptions.

Sakurajima, Japan

Sakurajima, Japan, is an active volcano located on a volcanic peninsula in southern Kyushu. It is known for its frequent and often small to moderate eruptions, which produce ash plumes and have led to the development of specialized volcanic hazard mitigation strategies in the area. The volcano’s activity is closely monitored, and local communities have adapted to coexist with the ongoing volcanic hazards.

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece, is an island in the southern Aegean Sea known for its breathtaking scenery and the remnants of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history. The eruption around 1600 BC led to the collapse of the island’s central caldera, forming the unique landscape that Santorini is famous for today. While the island is not currently experiencing significant volcanic activity, the history of its cataclysmic eruption remains a point of interest for scientists and tourists alike.

Mount Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mount Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, is one of the world’s most active and dangerous stratovolcanoes, known for its extremely fluid lava that can flow rapidly and pose a threat to the nearby city of Goma. It’s located within Virunga National Park and has experienced numerous eruptions in recent history, making it a focal point for scientific research and emergency preparedness.

Mount Merapi, Indonesia

Mount Merapi, Indonesia, is one of the most active and deadly volcanoes in the world. Located on the island of Java, it frequently erupts, posing a significant threat to the nearby city of Yogyakarta and surrounding villages. Continuous monitoring and evacuation plans are essential to protect the local population from its eruptions.

Mauna Loa, USA (Hawaii)

Mauna Loa, USA (Hawaii), is the largest volcano on Earth in terms of volume and one of the five shield volcanoes that form the Big Island of Hawaii. It has a relatively low eruption frequency, with its last eruption occurring in 1984, but it remains closely monitored due to its potential impact on the island’s communities and landscapes. Mauna Loa’s massive size and unique geological features make it an important subject of scientific study.

Mount Etna, Italy

Mount Etna, Italy, is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and the highest in Europe. Located on the island of Sicily, it frequently erupts and has a history of volcanic activity dating back thousands of years. Despite the hazards it presents, the rich volcanic soils in its vicinity support agriculture and viticulture, making it a vital part of the local economy. Scientific research and monitoring of Mount Etna help mitigate the risks associated with its ongoing volcanic activity.

These volcanoes have the potential to impact millions of people living in their vicinity, and the Decade Volcanoes program plays a crucial role in helping to reduce the risks associated with volcanic eruptions by studying and monitoring these volcanoes and developing strategies for hazard mitigation and disaster preparedness.