A total of 30 countries, overseas territories and departments have seen volcanic eruptions of all levels in 2023 so far. While some of these took place in remote locales like Alaska’s Aleutian islands, Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula, British island overseas territories and Antarctica, this isn’t always the case. People around the world live close to volcanoes and must evacuate when an eruption is imminent.
On Italy’s island of Sicily, volcano Etna stared erupting on Sunday, spewing lava and ash. In Iceland, the alarm also sounded over the weekend as scientists detected increased seismic activity and warned an eruption could soon take place on the island nation’s Reykjanes peninsula close to capital Reykjavik. The town of Grindavík was evacuated. Like Italy, the country saw one other eruption in 2023 so far, at Fagradalsfjall volcano also on the peninsula in question. In Italy, Sicilian volcano Stromboli has been classified as active in addition to the ongoing Etna outbreak. Icelandic observers believe that volcanic activity in the region will continue since large amounts of lava have formed underneath the ground.
Among the countries which have seen eruptions this year, the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program lists Mexico, El Salvador, the Philippines, Indonesia and Nicaragua as having large numbers of people living near volcanoes. Just two weeks ago, the impressive Klyuchevskoy volcano in Russia’s Kamchatka erupted, prompting school closures. Nearby Shiveluch blew up in April, also amid school closures and warnings to aviation. In October, eruptions on Japan’s remote Iwo Jima island formed a new mini island. In August, Peru’s Sabancaya erupted, putting the country’s second-biggest city, Arequipa, on alert. Similarly, when Guatemala’s Fuego Volcano erupted in May, nearby Guatemala City was on volcano watch as villages close to the volcano were evacuated.