All through the history of mankind fire has fascinated, terrified and calmed us all, and we have made endeavours to control its force.
The most uncontrollable force of all is the kind of fire that is trapped below the Earth’s thin and fragile surface, only to reveal itself in the shape of volcanic eruptions.
This post is part of a series portraying the classic Elements of Nature: Earth, Fire, Water, Air. Volcanoes are examples of the second element, Fire.
Along the Mid-Atlantic ridge there are a number of volcanoes which over the millennia have contributed to the building of new land in the shape of islands: Madeira and Iceland to mention two. On the great land masses called continents volcanoes have had devastating effects and destroyed much of itself and the surrounding landscape.
The most interesting are the active volcanoes and the ones which look “pretty”, i.e. those with a perfect conical shape. I have, like in other parts in this series, looked into my rear mirror for examples of volcanoes and I have come up with these 7 active volcanoes.
The magnificent seven
1. Villarrica, Chile. There are many volcanoes in South America dotting the Andes mountain range from Ecuador in the north to Chile in the south. This particular is one of five in the world to have an active lava lake within its crater. I would know, because I once looked down into it. The smell was like hell, the ascent of the mountain was luring, the views around were great, and the bursts of lava not many metres down that crater were awesome.
2. Etna, Italy. This is a country which has suffered from volcanic eruptions for millennia. We have all heard of Pompeii and the volcano Vesuvius. Further south, on the island of Sicily, there is another volcano. It is still very much active, and may have eruptions on different places at the same time. It is huge. I went up there on one side of the mountain, just to notice the fire on the other side lighting up the evening sky as we were leaving.
3. Thira, Greece. The beautiful island in the sun, Santorini, is only a fraction of what it used to be. The banana shaped island of Santorini is the largest rest of what used to be a much larger island. A series of volcanic eruptions and explosions not more than 3,500 years ago created a huge crater in the middle which was filled with seawater. The islands of Aspronisi and Therasia constitute the rest of the caldera ring. Nea Kameni sits in the middle of the crater. Some say that Santorini was in fact the origin of the Atlantis legend.
On my visits, Villarrica and Thira reeked of sulphur, and on the Villarrica and Etna I could see lava. The next four volcanoes are still active, but I did not get close enough to smell, or look into them.
4. Fuji, Japan. This one I don’t even have a photograph of. The linked article explains why. It is too bad, but it is included in this list because I still have a vivid memory of it as one of the world’s most beautifully coned volcanoes.
5. Mayon, Philippines. Along with Mount Fuji this is one more active volcano with a perfect shape. It is situated in the southern part of Luzon, the main island of this archipelago. I only took one picture of it, here it is. Isn’t it nice?
For the last two volcanoes we are moving back to South America.
6. Lanin, Chile/Argentina. This is another one seen from a distance. The mountain strides both sides of the border between Chile and Argentina and looks perfect.
7. Chimborazo, Ecuador. Coming up is another one from the Andes. Ecuador has quite a few of the volcanoes and we liked the view from our hotel to the Chimborazo a lot.
Missing anything? For sure, I’ve had to skip some of my images related to this subject and refrained from mentioning some of my visits. Feel free to search this website for more. In addition, you are surely missing famous places or your own favourites. Chances are I haven’t been there, and I only include my own images and visits in this series.
We will now be changing “Element” to have a look at “Water”, in five articles.
All articles in this series
(2-7) Element: Earth
(8) Element: Fire
(9-14) Element: Water
There are some pictures uploaded that are tagged “volcano”. Click on the images to expand and browse.