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Volcanoes – Ring of Fire

Volcanoes have always both fascinated and frightened mankind. Often causing massive loss of life, they’ve been worshipped as gods, and feared as homes for the devil. They emit hugeMegan McCormick, Hawaiiamounts of poison gas and ash, yet provide some of the most fertile land on Earth.

In this Globe Trekker Special – Volcanoes: Ring of Fire – travellers Megan McCormickIan WrightJustine ShapiroAlex Riley, and Sami Sabiti explore the world’s most spectacular volcanoes, travelling from the heart of Europe, across the Atlantic and Caribbean, to the deadly Pacific Ring of Fire.

In Europe, Ian Wright visits the Italian island of Stromboli, which has been continually erupting for at least a thousand year. Justine Shapiro travels to the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, which was destroyed in 79AD by an eruption of the nearby volcano Vesuvius. And Megan heads to the Greek island of Santorini, where 1500 years before the demise of Pompeii a cataclysmic eruption destroyed local Minoan cities, and caused a vast tsunami to surge across the Mediterranean.

In much more recent times, volcanic eruptions have also frequently had devastating consequences. Megan McCormick visits Krakatoa in Indonesia, which killed over 36,000 people when it erupted in 1883. We travel to Mont Pelée on the Caribbean island of Martinique, which erupted in 1902 causing the deaths of 30,000 people. Sami Sabiti climbs to the summit of Mount Saint Helens in the United States, and meets scientists and survivors of the massive eruption here in 1980 – casualties were fortunately few, with just 57 killed, as the volcano is located in a sparsely populated area.

We travel to numerous other volcanic hotspots across the world:

  • Izalco Volcano, El SalvadorMontserrat in the Caribbean, where eruptions in the 1990s destroyed the capital city and caused half the island to be evacuated;
  • Kilauea in Hawaii;
  • Faial in the Azores, visited by Megan McCormick;
  • Mount Fuji in Japan, climbed by Ian Wright;
  • Santa Ana in El Salvador;
  • Arenal in Costa Rica;
  • Pacaya in Guatemala;
  • Ian Wright, Mount Fuji, JapanCotopaxi in Ecuador;
  • Mount Yasur in Vanuatu, where Ian Wright gets close up to the most approachable highly active volcano in the world.

The extraordinary power of volcanoes has brought death and destruction to many parts of the world for thousands of years, but of all the world’s volcanoes, one has scientists worrying about the future more than any other.

Alex Riley visits La Palma in the Canary Islands, discovering how an eruption could make a 500 cubic kilometre chunk of the island crash into the sea, creating a massive tsunami that could cause an international catastrophe, surging all the way across the Atlantic to devastate cities on the east coast of the United States. It might not happen for another million years, of course, but it could happen next Thursday!

Places Mentioned - Costa Rica, Ecuador, Greece and the Greek Islands, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, La Ruta Maya - Yucatan & Guatemala & Belize, Martinique, Montserrat, Portugal, USA, Vanuatu

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