Is El Popo the Most Dangerous Volcano in North America?

You may be surprised at the answer.


At first, Mexico resident Erik Vance presumed that Mexico’s Popocatapetl must be the most dangerous volcano in North America. But when he checked in with Randy White, a volcano expert and part of the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program, which monitors volcanoes on the continent and around the globe for U.S.G.S., Vance learned that El Popo “doesn’t even make the list of top five. Maybe top 10.”

“The one that probably keeps me up at night the most is Mount Rainier,” said White. “It seems that not only is Rainier far more mysterious than Popo, but its chemistry points to a more viscous, explosive eruption. Plus, it hasn’t erupted in more than 100 years, sitting, building up pressure. And, of course, Tacoma, Wash., is right there at its foot. If it decides to get nasty, the first thing it will do is melt its snowcap, thus creating destructive landslides of slushy mud, called lahars.

“So there you have it,” says Vance. “If you like to play it safe and avoid dangerous places and you live in Tacoma, think about relocating to Mexico City. Our volcanoes are more friendly.”

See entire article by Erik Vance:

Thanks to Jimmy Walter for this link

“Rainier is going to kill a lot of people one day,” says Jimmy.

10 thoughts on “Is El Popo the Most Dangerous Volcano in North America?”

  1. The Tacoma News Tribune had an eight part series on Mt. Rainier and its potential for mayhem back in 1999. Unfortunately, my searching shows it only accessible by subscribers. From memory, and other sources: it would be very ugly. Lahars up to 100′ high potentially running over suburban communities in the White, Carbon, Nisqually and Puyallup River valleys, downtown Auburn, Puyallup, Fife and the industrial tideflats adjacent to Commencement Bay. Worse, since Mt. Rainier is an unstable mountain, a major earthquake could shake loose a flank, compounding one natural disaster with a second “kill shot.” (See Prof. Nick Zentner’s YT video discussion on the Osceola event. And that was off the eastern flank. Western flank currently primed.) Link below (“Rainier Wins Disaster Drill”) was written about an exercise in 2001 by Sandi Doughton, author of “Full-Rip 9.0, The Next Big Earthquake in the PNW.”

    • Not really assumptions. It’s a sure thing that there will be catastrophic geologic events. But these events will occur in Geologic time – very hard to predict.

      Bit like Dick Cheney’s speech.
      there are no “knowns.” There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know. So when we do the best we can and we pull all this information together, and we then say well that’s basically what we see as the situation, that is really only the known knowns and the known unknowns. And each year, we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns.

      The USGS have a list of whats called the decade volcano’s – this is a list of the thought to be most dangerous to human volcanos which have the potential to erupt and cause loss of life.

  2. Seriously? No one is going to point out the 8000-pound gorilla in the room—Yellowstone, the biggest supervolcano on the planet? If that ever decides to blow, humanity may as well kiss its collective butt goodbye. El Popo is 40 miles away from the capital and routinely vents its throat; Rainier hasn’t erupted for a long time but pales in comparison to the sleeping giant that is Yellowstone.

    That’s MY vote for the most dangerous volcano not only in North America but in the world.

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