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  #1  
Old 09-04-2009, 12:26 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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Biggest City Near Active Volcano

With the wildfires in California, you hear about "Why do people live in those areas?"

Of course people reply, "Why do people live in coastal areas, subject to hurricanes, or near rivers etc, etc."

I was wondering what would be the biggest city near an active volcano. I know it's impossible to predict when a volcano will go off (or maybe it isn't) but I was wondering what the biggest urban area near an active volcano?
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  #2  
Old 09-04-2009, 12:41 AM
Silophant Silophant is offline
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Not researched at all, but I'd think Honolulu or Seattle. Is Mount Fuji active?
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  #3  
Old 09-04-2009, 12:49 AM
gazpacho gazpacho is offline
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Naples Italy. There are about 5 million people in the Naples Metro area.
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Old 09-04-2009, 12:56 AM
StaudtCJ StaudtCJ is offline
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Originally Posted by Silophant View Post
Not researched at all, but I'd think Honolulu or Seattle. Is Mount Fuji active?
Mount Fuji is currently dormant, but doing things to make vulcanologists nervous about its continued dormancy.

Last edited by StaudtCJ; 09-04-2009 at 12:57 AM..
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  #5  
Old 09-04-2009, 01:02 AM
cmkeller cmkeller is offline
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In the USA, I'd say Seattle. Mount Ranier is technically considered active, isn't it? And even if not, Mount St. Helens is probably closer to it (and closer still to Portland, but Seattle's definitely bigger) than any active volcano is to Honolulu.

Mount Fuji is considered to be active, but Tokyo is further from it than Ranier is from Seattle or St. Helens from Portland.

World-wide, Naples is practically a stone's throw from Mount Vesuvius. Wikipedia has a volcano map of Indonesia which shows a few volcanoes looking like they're practically on top of Jakarta, but it's hard to tell exactly how close they get.
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  #6  
Old 09-04-2009, 01:12 AM
appleciders appleciders is offline
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Originally Posted by gazpacho View Post
Naples Italy. There are about 5 million people in the Naples Metro area.
This is probably the best answer; Naples is less than ten miles from Vesuvius. For a looser definition of "near", Popocatepetl is less than fifty miles from Mexico City, which is larger than Naples.
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  #7  
Old 09-04-2009, 01:33 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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I guess when I said "near," what I mean is close enough so if the volcano goes off it'd do major damage to the city or they'd have to evacuate the city
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  #8  
Old 09-04-2009, 01:42 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Nowhere near as large a population as Naples, but the city of Kagoshima in Japan is pretty spectacularly close to an active volcano. The volcano, Sakurajima, smokes most of the time and the city is almost permanently dusted in fine white ash, which sometimes falls like snow, and every so often there are eruptions of lava.
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  #9  
Old 09-04-2009, 03:29 AM
GreasyJack GreasyJack is online now
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I think Mexico City would definitely be the biggest urban area near a volcano, with the city center being only about 40 miles or so from Popocatépetl and some of the suburbs going practically right up to the thing.

Popocatépetl and Vesuvius are both pretty puny little volcanoes, though. I think the Seattle/Tacoma area still has the prize of being the largest urban area seriously threatened by a volcano.
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  #10  
Old 09-04-2009, 03:50 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Originally Posted by GreasyJack View Post
Popocatépetl and Vesuvius are both pretty puny little volcanoes, though. I think the Seattle/Tacoma area still has the prize of being the largest urban area seriously threatened by a volcano.
Vesuvius is not puny.
Quote:
Mount Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in AD 79 that led to the destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and the death of 10,000 to 25,000 people. It has erupted many times since and is today regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the population of 3,000,000 people living nearby and its tendency towards explosive (Plinian) eruptions.
People live right up the slopes of the volcano. If and when it does decide to go bang, things would get rather interesting rather quickly.
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  #11  
Old 09-04-2009, 04:38 AM
Captain_Awesome Captain_Awesome is offline
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When the Taupo Volcano decides to become active again, it could imperil most of New Zealand's North Island (c. 3.25 million).

Whilst medium term predictions of volcanic activity are unreliable, it's usually possible to give a warning of a few days, or at least several hours, for an impending eruption, provided monitoring systems are in place. Whilst there are false positives, many case studies show that meaningful alerts are possible, unlike with earthquakes, where no reliable indicators have been found.
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  #12  
Old 09-04-2009, 05:03 AM
Tapioca Dextrin Tapioca Dextrin is online now
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How about Plymouth (the one on Montserrat). It's not so much near a volcano, more like buried under one
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  #13  
Old 09-04-2009, 06:31 AM
StaudtCJ StaudtCJ is offline
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Originally Posted by cmkeller View Post
Mount Fuji is considered to be active, but Tokyo is further from it than Ranier is from Seattle or St. Helens from Portland.
You're right. It's now classified as active with a low risk of eruption. Weird. They were calling it dormant 20 years ago. I apologize for my out of date information.
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  #14  
Old 09-04-2009, 06:46 AM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkeller View Post
In the USA, I'd say Seattle. Mount Ranier is technically considered active, isn't it? And even if not, Mount St. Helens is probably closer to it (and closer still to Portland, but Seattle's definitely bigger) than any active volcano is to Honolulu.
Mount Hood is closer to Portland than Mount St. Helens.
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  #15  
Old 09-04-2009, 07:16 AM
picunurse picunurse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkeller View Post
In the USA, I'd say Seattle. Mount Ranier is technically considered active, isn't it? And even if not, Mount St. Helens is probably closer to it (and closer still to Portland, but Seattle's definitely bigger) than any active volcano is to Honolulu.

Mount Fuji is considered to be active, but Tokyo is further from it than Ranier is from Seattle or St. Helens from Portland.

World-wide, Naples is practically a stone's throw from Mount Vesuvius. Wikipedia has a volcano map of Indonesia which shows a few volcanoes looking like they're practically on top of Jakarta, but it's hard to tell exactly how close they get.
Mt St Helens isn't close to Seattle. Mt Rainier is closer to Tacoma than Seattle. All of the past eruptions from Rainier have had pyroclastic flows and lahars through the Tacoma area and to the south. Seattle is northwest of Rainier.
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  #16  
Old 09-04-2009, 09:18 AM
dracoi dracoi is offline
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Originally Posted by picunurse View Post
Mt St Helens isn't close to Seattle. Mt Rainier is closer to Tacoma than Seattle. All of the past eruptions from Rainier have had pyroclastic flows and lahars through the Tacoma area and to the south. Seattle is northwest of Rainier.
Darn, you beat me to it. To summarize the risks: if Rainier goes off in the worst-case scenario way, you'll have 100,000 people buried under 20 feet of mud. (Unless they run really fast. Driving to safety isn't an option, as anyone who's experienced "normal" traffic around there can testify.)

But Naples has definitely got us beat.
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  #17  
Old 09-04-2009, 09:35 AM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
Vesuvius is not puny.
Popocatepetl has produced some major plinian eruptions, too, though not since around 800 AD. That is, of course, no guarantee that it couldn't produce another one.
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  #18  
Old 09-04-2009, 10:07 AM
amarinth amarinth is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
Darn, you beat me to it. To summarize the risks: if Rainier goes off in the worst-case scenario way, you'll have 100,000 people buried under 20 feet of mud. (Unless they run really fast. Driving to safety isn't an option, as anyone who's experienced "normal" traffic around there can testify.)

But Naples has definitely got us beat.
Actually, if Rainier goes off in the worst-case scenario way, the volcano will take out Tacoma and the triggering and/or triggered earthquakes will upset the region while the Sound tsunamis into Seattle.

But still, fewer people than Naples.
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  #19  
Old 09-04-2009, 10:44 AM
NinjaChick NinjaChick is offline
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When the supervolcano under Yellowstone blows again, a significant chunk of the continent is pretty well screwed.
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  #20  
Old 09-04-2009, 10:55 AM
Duckster Duckster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkeller View Post
In the USA, I'd say Seattle. Mount Ranier is technically considered active, isn't it? And even if not, Mount St. Helens is probably closer to it (and closer still to Portland, but Seattle's definitely bigger) than any active volcano is to Honolulu.
Mount St. Helens is an insignificant threat compared to Mt. Rainier or Mt. Hood.

As already mentioned, volcanic activity on Mt. Rainier will trigger extremely large lahars and greatly endanger sizeable population areas in the Seattle-Tacoma corridor, irrespective of downwind ash clouds or lava. If I remember correctly, timing is everything with 30 minutes being the upper limit from the time the sirens go off until the lahars hit.

The topography around Mt. Hood directs lahars away from Portand in the west. Then again, a damming of the Columbia River to the north by a large lahar (and earthquakes) is always a possibility. At least it would offer the Army Corps an opportunity to create a drainage channel to prevent further disaster downstream as was done after the 1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake near Yellowstone.

While the OP is targetting populations endangered, the real danger is a critical disruption to communications, transportation and commerce with an eruption of either Mt. Rainer or Mt. Hood. A Mt. Rainer eruption will close the I-5/I-90 corridors and impact Puget Sound shipping. A Mt. Hood eruption with impact I-84 and the two rail lines along the Columbia River, not to mention the river itself. Those disruptions will have a much greater impact than the 3.5 million near Seattle or the one million near Portland.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NinjaChick View Post
When the supervolcano under Yellowstone blows again, a significant chunk of the continent is pretty well screwed.
Actually, when Yellowstone blows, it will be a world-wide event.

Last edited by Duckster; 09-04-2009 at 10:56 AM..
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  #21  
Old 09-04-2009, 11:47 AM
jharvey963 jharvey963 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silophant View Post
Not researched at all, but I'd think Honolulu or Seattle. Is Mount Fuji active?
Actually, Honolulu is on Oahu, with no active volcanos. The active volcanos in Hawaii are on the Big Island. Eyeballing it on Google Maps puts Honolulu almost 200 miles away from the volcano.
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  #22  
Old 09-04-2009, 12:28 PM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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Out of curiosity, I seem to remember a dormant volcano looming over the Osaka-Kyoto metropolitan area in stuff I read some time ago. Anyone with adequate knowledge of Japan's physical geography to identify it and indicate where it fits in this scheme of things?
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  #23  
Old 09-04-2009, 12:52 PM
Yossarian Yossarian is offline
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There's an official list (IAVCEI)--behold the Decade Volcanoes. At a glance, Naples appears to be the biggest city on the list.

Avachinsky-Koryaksky, Kamchatka, Russia
Colima, Jalisco and Colima, Mexico
Mount Etna, Sicily, Italy
Galeras, Nariño, Colombia
Mauna Loa, Hawaii, USA
Mount Merapi, Central Java, Indonesia
Mount Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of Congo
Mount Rainier, Washington, USA
Sakurajima, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan
Santamaria/Santiaguito, Guatemala
Santorini, Cyclades, Greece
Taal Volcano, Luzon, Philippines
Teide, Canary Islands, Spain
Ulawun, New Britain, Papua New Guinea
Mount Unzen, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan
Vesuvius, Naples, Italy

Last edited by Yossarian; 09-04-2009 at 12:56 PM..
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  #24  
Old 09-04-2009, 02:14 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is online now
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I read an article in National Geographic about Vesuvius and the fact that it has erupted prehistorically in a much, MUCH bigger way than Pliny's eruption. If that happens again, none of Naples stands a chance at all, not just the suburbs on the volcanic slopes.
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  #25  
Old 09-04-2009, 02:22 PM
Geek Mecha Geek Mecha is offline
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Originally Posted by jharvey963 View Post
Actually, Honolulu is on Oahu, with no active volcanos. The active volcanos in Hawaii are on the Big Island. Eyeballing it on Google Maps puts Honolulu almost 200 miles away from the volcano.
Not only that, but there are multiple islands between the islands of Oahu and Hawaii. It'd have to be one determined eruption to make it all the way to Honolulu.
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  #26  
Old 09-04-2009, 02:52 PM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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Originally Posted by AudreyK View Post
Not only that, but there are multiple islands between the islands of Oahu and Hawaii. It'd have to be one determined eruption to make it all the way to Honolulu.
A tsunami generated by an eruption could do it, though. Of course, so could a tsunami generated by an earthquake or volcanic eruption anywhere in the Pacific.
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  #27  
Old 09-04-2009, 03:00 PM
hibernicus hibernicus is offline
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Originally Posted by jjimm View Post
Nowhere near as large a population as Naples, but the city of Kagoshima in Japan is pretty spectacularly close to an active volcano. The volcano, Sakurajima, smokes most of the time and the city is almost permanently dusted in fine white ash, which sometimes falls like snow, and every so often there are eruptions of lava.
I've stayed on Sakurajima. The children wear yellow helmets when walking to school, and there are concrete culverts at intervals along the road to take shelter in the event of an eruption. Once a year they have an evacuation drill.
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  #28  
Old 09-04-2009, 04:30 PM
DooWahDiddy DooWahDiddy is offline
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Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
Vesuvius is not puny.


People live right up the slopes of the volcano. If and when it does decide to go bang, things would get rather interesting rather quickly.
I've walked up Mt. Vesuvius, and let me tell you, the thing was smoking. No, literally. We got to the top, looked in, and smoke was emanating from the craters inside it. Now, we were told this was not entirely uncommon, but we still hightailed it out of there.
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