Earth has had a dramatic history, filled with its share of angry outbursts. Here’s how the largest volcanic eruptions measure up.
The Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) ranks eruptions by size and power. The scale goes from VEI-0 to VEI-8. It measures ash, lava, and rock ejected.
VEI-0: usually a steady trickle of lava instead of an explosion. An example is the Hawaiian volcano of Kīlauea.
VEI-1: a gentle eruption that can happen frequently. Italy’s Mt. Stromboli has been erupting almost continuously for 2,000 years.
VEI-2: several mild explosions a month. Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung has been erupting since 2013.
VEI-3: catastrophic eruptions that happen every few months. Lassen Peak in Northern California had a VEI-3 in 1915.
VEI-4 happen about every other year. In 2010, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull grounded thousands of flights.
VEI-5 things start getting more dramatic. Both Mt. Vesuvius (79 AD) and Mt. St. Helens (1980) were VEI-5s.
VEI-6: colossal eruptions every 100 years. The 1883 explosion of Krakatoa was the most famous of these.
VEI-7 eruptions occur every 1,000 years. The most recent was Indonesia’s Mt. Tambora in 1815.
VEI-8 devastating explosive eruption every 50,000 years. The Yellowstone Caldera would reach this level if it were to erupt.
Let’s all just keep our cool.