If you haven't read it yet, you might be scoffing at the scenario we posed in this issue's What If? feature. “Deadly volcanoes?” you ask. “How can anyone die by lava when it moves so slowly?” Well, outrunning flowing magma might be the least of your worries.
In 1985, Colombia's Nevado del Ruiz erupted, melting summit glaciers and causing mudflows to blanket nearby towns. More than 25,000 people died. Closer to home, Mount St. Helens blew her lid in 1980, killing more than 50 people — most died due to asphyxiation from ash and toxic gas. Volcanoes have been fatal in other ways, from ejecting lethal debris to causing devastating tsunamis and even famine.
So, pay attention to any news reports about active volcanoes. Even if you don't live next to them, you could be vacationing nearby when one of these blows. Or, at the very least, you could spew fun facts the next time your wife decides to watch Joe Versus the Volcano for the umpteenth time. Below is a just a handful of the many active volcanoes on this molten rock we call Earth.
Mount St. Helens, Washington
Mount Unzen, Japan
Mauna Loa, Big Island, Hawaii
Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand