The most important active volcanoes on Earth
In the last 10,000 years, which correspond to the current geological period called the Holocene, a number of 1331 volcanoes have erupted  . Several dozen eruptions, some of considerable magnitude, are ongoing at any given time. To the Holocene eruptions are added the volcanoes of the Pleistocene period (2 million-10 thousand years) which, although they have not had notable recent activity, built some of the highest mountain massifs on Earth, such as Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa (5895m) which erupted 150-200 thousand years ago.
Choosing the most important volcanoes is not a simple task at all, the ranking will differ significantly depending on the criterion chosen. In most situations, the highest volcanoes considered active on each continent are selected, but a ranking based on the number of deaths caused, the year of the last eruption or an indicator called "Volcanic Explosivity Index - VEI" is also interesting.
In the following table we have selected the most important volcanoes according to the criteria stated above. You can reorder the volcanoes by clicking on the corresponding column in the table header.
|Volcano Name||Country||Continent||Last known eruption (year)||Elevation (m)||Total Deaths||Max VEI|
|Nevados Ojos del Salado||Chile-Argentina||South America||750||6879||0||2|
|Nevado del Ruiz||Colombia||South America||2022||5321||24716||0|
|Churchill||United States||North America||847||5005||0||6|
|Rainier||United States||North America||1450||4392||0||4|
|Mauna Loa||United States||Oceania||1984||4170||77||2|
|Santa Maria||Guatemala||North America||2022||3745||10205||6|
|St. Helens||United States||North America||2008||2549||61||6|
|Ilopango||El Salvador||North America||1880||450||30000||6|
What does "active volcano" mean?
We might think that a volcano is active when there are visible signs of volcanic activity: lava flows, gases, ash, the existence of explosions or earthquakes. Over time, however, it was found that hundreds or even thousands of years can pass between two eruptions of the same volcano, without there being notable manifestations of volcanism in the period between the eruptions. In this context, the consideration of a volcano as active depends on the temporal scale to which we refer. We have seen above that in the last 10000 years more than 1000 volcanoes have erupted and practically all these volcanoes, plus others may erupt again in the more or less distant future or are erupting right now and therefore can be considered active.
According to the USGS (United States Geological Survey)  The Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) is a numerical scale that measures the relative explosiveness of historical eruptions. The volume of the products, the height of the eruption cloud, and qualitative observations (using terms that range from "mild" to "mega-colossal") are used to determine the value of the explosiveness. The scale is open, logarithmic, just like the Richter scale. The largest volcanic eruptions in history (supereruptions) received magnitude 8, in their case the volume of ejected lava exceeded 1000km3. The Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) was devised by Chris Newhall of the United States Geological Survey and Stephen Self of the University of Hawaii in 1982.
Are all active volcanoes on Earth known?
Mostly yes, but surprises can also appear. Prominent volcanic cones are easy to identify, but there are also active volcanoes that don't appear to be what they are, such as Lake Taupo which, despite its picturesque appearance today, is actually a volcanic caldera with a violent past that erupted the lives of 64 people (see table).
If you want to view all the volcanoes known to date, you can do so using the kml file provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program (GVP) and the GoogleEarth app. Follow these steps:
1. Install the GoogleEarth app on the device you are using
2. Download and open the active volcanoes file
 NOAA, National Centers for Environmental Information, https://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/hazard/volcano.shtml
 General Geographical Atlas (1974) Didactic and Pedagogical Publishing House - Bucharest
Atlante Geografico De Agostini (2018), Instituto Geografico De Agostini