Talk:List of largest volcanic eruptions

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Hello, This is a list of the largest eruptions ever recorded. In order to keep the list manageable, I have kept it to explosive eruptions greater than or equal to 1,000 cubic km. Please do not add more unless they meet this criteria or the list will become too long. IMHO, this is the best list of it's kind anywhere on the internet, and although it could always use work, dramatic changes are not necessary at this point. Please discuss dramatic changes here first. QFL 24-7 bla ¤ cntrb ¤ kids ¤ pics ¤ vids 15:08, 7 August 2010 (UTC)

Ontong Java Plateau[edit]

I doubt the Ontong Java Plateau is the largest igneous body on Earth, especially if it was placed during a single magmatic event. The Mackenzie Large Igneous Province was constructed during a single magmatic event and is larger than the Ontong Java Plateau, convering an area of 2,700,000 km2 (1,000,000 sq mi). According to the Ontong Java Plateau article, it only covers an area of 2,000,000 km2 (770,000 sq mi). Thus, it is about 700,000 km2 (270,000 sq mi) smaller than the Mackenzie Large Igneous Province. The Coppermine flood basalts should be included in this list as well because it covers a volume of 650,000 km3 (160,000 cu mi). I am tired of having to alert crap like this all the time. Volcanoguy 17:35, 7 August 2010 (UTC)

Well, I was just going by my sources... feel free to adjust as needed, that's why this is Wikipedia. By the way, there is no reference to a VOLUME on the reference provided wrt the Mackenzie, so it can not be included until a volume is provided, since this list (and any other comparison of volcanic activity/strength) is based on volume, not area. You are comparing areas. Check the list, it is all done in volume, and the Ontong is 57 million cubic km. Maybe the mackenzie is bigger, I just can't find the reference to this being true. Also, Coppermine can and should be included, because you actually did state a volume, and it is an appropriate volume. I will do that now. Thanks for the alert and sorry for the inconvenience. QFL 24-7 bla ¤ cntrb ¤ kids ¤ pics ¤ vids 21:30, 7 August 2010 (UTC)
No problem. I don't really know if it's appropiate to include the entire Mackenzie event in the article though. That is why I added it here. The area of the LIP can be found here. But according to maps the LIP consists largely of the giant Mackenzie dike swarm and dike swarms arn't really products of eruptions; they are intrusions. And according to here, the Mackenzie Large Igneous Province is the largest and best-presevered flood basalt terrain on Earth. Volcanoguy 03:43, 8 August 2010 (UTC)
OK, cool. If we can find MacLIP volume, it can be included for sure, but hopefully the inclusion of Coppermine to the non-explosive list is, at the very least, a good way to represent it on the list. QFL 24-7 bla ¤ cntrb ¤ kids ¤ pics ¤ vids 05:09, 8 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree. Hopefully I will have time to expand the Coppermine River Group article when I am done gathering information to expand other volcano articles. The Mackenzie LIP must be one if not the largest magmatic event of North America, which is why I remained a bit surprised that nothing related to it was mentioned in the list. Obviously, the Coppermine flood basalts have a grater volume than the much younger and more well-known Columbia River flood basalts. The Coppermine River flood basalts were likely more vast than they are now from millions of years of erosion. Volcanoguy 14:58, 8 August 2010 (UTC)

i am not sure about that so don't hope to think that this is true — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:12, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

Peate, Ingrid Ukstins[edit]

I believe u should not cite the first author and the rest as et al. The first four authors should be cited too. --Chris.urs-o (talk) 04:39, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

The correct method of citing authors in the work is: Single author: "Bloggs, J; 1999. Title of paper. Title of the journal, 27, 123-135." Two authors: "Bloggs, J. & Smiff, H; 1999. Title of paper. Title of the journal, 51, 135-151." Three or more authors: "Blogss, J. et. al; 1999. Title of paper, Title of the journal, 101, 246-290."

However when actually listing the authors in the Reference, the authors are ALL listed. So that the "paper," written and co-authored by "Bloggs, J et al;" would be referenced in the listing like this: "Bloggs, J, Smiff, A, Dirk, B, George, H, Fearnot, D, and Zeberdee, H; 1999. Title of paper. Title of the journal, 101, 246-290."

When referring to a reference in a book you put the authors name, title of the book, year of publication, pages, and the publishers name and city. If the book has an ISBN you also add that AFTER the other information. "Bloggs, J. How to build a volcano in easy stages. 1999. Rockman Pub. Vancouver."

If you refer to a paper in a collection of papers in a book, the normal method is that you refer to the papers authors as above but in the reference list you list them as shown above with the ADDED information as follows- "In: Brown, A; Clarke, D; Smiff, G; and Harris, L. (eds) How to build a volcano in a year. Publisher, City," and if it forms a series of collected papers such as produced by the US Geological Society, Geological Society of London etc., you put the publication number followed by the page numbers of the paper. Most scientific books that present collected papers have a note usually around page ii, advising you how to refer to papers in the book.The Geologist (talk) 16:33, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Ranking by volume[edit]

I feel it's potentially misleading to rank the list of explosive eruptions by "volume", when volume is measured on two different scales (tephra and DRE) for different eruptions. This is a bit like ranking basketball players by "height", when some are measured in inches and others in cm. That method would put Muggsy Bogues, the shortest player ever in the NBA with a height of 160 (cm), well above Yao Ming with his height of 90 (inches).

Magma is denser than most tephra deposits, so DRE volumes are generally less than the corresponding tephra volume. Densities of different tephra deposits can vary by more than a factor of 2, though (see e.g. Mason et al 2004, doi:10.1007/s00445-004-0355-9, who base their conversions on densities ranging from 1,100 to 2,400 kg/m³), so any conversion would have to take the nature of the deposit into account. This might be getting too close to OR for us to do it ourselves. I don't see a perfect solution to the problem, but perhaps the best approach would be to include two volume columns, one for tephra volume and one for DRE volume. Often one or the other would be empty, but the cases where we have both would show our readers that they can be quite different. I think we should at least add a note acknowledging the problem. --Avenue (talk) 23:35, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

Largest Effusive Eruption[edit]

There are many very large basaltic flows with areas that are calculated in 1,000s of sq km. However the largest single outpouring (as a percentage of land covered), of basaltic lavas occurred in 1730-1734 on the Canarian Island of Lanzarote. The lavas covered approximately 25% - 1/4 of the island and added a further - depending on which maps are used, 5 to 10% of land to the island.The Geologist (talk) 16:10, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Hi Geologist, the largest effusive eruption in history (Holocene) has been in Iceland, the Þjórsárhraun eruption of the Bárdarbunga volcano, circa 6700 BC. Let's be scientific and accurate and measure by Km3 of lava erupted: this eruption was 25 Km3 of lava (compared to the 4 Km3 of Lanzarote 1730's eruption). Laki eruption in Iceland in 1783 (15 Km3 of lava) is therefore not the largest effusive eruption in history! Even if we assume the more recent history, the eruption of Katla (Eldgjá fissure) in 934, was still larger than Laki or Lanzerote, with 18 km3 erupted. The lava fields of Laki, Eldgjá and especially Þjórsárhraun, are also significantly larger than Lanzerote! Lanzarote is 300 Km2 by the best estimate. Laki is 565 Km2, Eldgjá is 700 km2, Þjórsárhraun is 950 km2. I am going to update this information to the page, but I will not delete your reference to Lanzarote.

Source: Global volcanism program, which is itself based in the consensus scientific data for most eruptions. For Icelandic eruptions, this consensus is well studied and established. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Irpsit (talkcontribs) 21:31, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

The geologist stated that the Lanzarote eruption of 1730-36 covered 25% of the land which regardless of whether an eruption in Iceland poured out a greater volume such as Laki about 15 cubic kilometeres, still makes Lanzarote the LARGEST by AREA. No other eruption has as far as we know covered such a large proportion of the land in a single eruption. It is as if a single eruption covered the Earth from the North Pole to the Equator along roughly the longitude 0 to 180 east - that would be 1/4 of the Earth. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:48, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

Not a "dynamic list"[edit]

I removed the "Dynamic list" hatnote. That note is intended for open-ended lists that "can never be complete." There are lots of such lists on Wikipedia, but this is not one of them. This is list has very clear limits: each member must be:

  • known to science
  • estimated at >1000 km3

The note detracted from the article for no good reason. It presence was not suddenly going to cause editors to go look for additional entries or to go into the field to search for additional eruptions, and in fact the list is likely to be complete given the inclusion criteria. -Arch dude (talk) 00:40, 3 February 2013 (UTC)

Hmm. I won't revert, but "known to science" seems like a pretty big qualifier to me; this list could be thrice its current size, were it not for the evidence of the earlier sorts of activity being long gone by now. ResMar 03:46, 3 February 2013 (UTC)

Frustrating list[edit]

The list is frustrating because it does not include the eruptions on the map. I think a list of largest eruptions since, say, 10K B.C, should be added or linked to. (talk) 13:46, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

The problem is the map, not the list. The map contains only a few of the eruptions listed here, along with many tiny eruptions that are way outside the list's scope. I'll revert back to the Pinatubo image. --Avenue (talk) 01:01, 5 November 2013 (UTC)


"Earth's largest eruptions can have a major regional or even global impact,... - Whilst regional may be correct geographically speaking, wouldn'r "continental" be a better word? Mjroots (talk) 20:30, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

The impact is through atmospheric distribution of injected particles, which drift around the globe. prokaryotes (talk) 06:00, 24 May 2015 (UTC)

Wah Wah Springs Eruption[edit]

The Wah Wah springs eruption was around 5500 to 5900 cubic kilometers of material. So it should be edited. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:55, 3 September 2015 (UTC)

Age sort of igneous provinces[edit]

I added 'data-sort-type="number"|' into that table. For some reasons, it sorted the ages alphanumerically (i.e. 10 before 9) instead of numerically (I don't exactly know why, since the other two tables work correctly despite not having that attribute either -- but comparing the versions clearly shows that the last version before my edit works wrongly).

PS: The change will appear with an IP (, since I forgot to login before editing there. --Ralf Muschall (talk) 18:04, 29 November 2015 (UTC)