1. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member


    The above chart is based on data from the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program (GVP_ database of eruptions, it's a count of all the eruptions that started in each year, from 1945 to 2015. It shows about 35 new eruptions per year, but with a lot of variation from about 25 to 50 per year. The trend over the full period is basically flat, and while there was a slight increase on average from about 1997 to 2008, this is balanced by a decline in recent years.

    This year, 2015, shows only 12 eruptions so far, if it continues at that rate we will have about 33 this year, a bit below average. The 12 confirmed eruptions are:
    • Tara, Batu
    • Tungurahua
    • Ubinas
    • Turrialba
    • Turrialba
    • Chikurachki
    • Fournaise, Piton de la
    • San Miguel
    • Karymsky
    • Pacaya
    • Soputan
    • Klyuchevskoy
    So why then do we have stories like this:
    Why is he saying there are 40 Volcanoes erupting right now, when the Smithsonian only lists 12 confirmed new eruptions so far?

    The problem is that Snyder is comparing two very different things. "Eruptions per year, as counted by the Smithsonian's GVP" is not the same thing as "erupting right now, according to Volcano Discovery". He's comparing one measurement against a different measurement. His historical figures are actually accurate, as they use the same Smithsonian data. There were actually 35 per year, on average, from 1900 to 1999. But if you actually look at the most recent data from the same source then the average has actually dropped a bit, to 33 (from 1945 to 2015), and has been declining in recent years.

    So what is this "40 volcanoes around the globe are erupting right now"? The figure comes from Volcano Discovery, a volcano tourism site that maintains a list of where there is volcanic activity, so people interested in visiting volcanos can find active volcanos. Volcano Discovery lists volcanoes that are either "erupting" (marked in red), or in a state of "unrest" (yellow), like this:

    The difference here seems to be that the two sources have a different cut-off criteria for what constitutes an "eruption". The Smithsonian GVP notes:

    Whereas Volcano Discovery seems to just include any report of activity that might be of interest to a Volcano tourist, and also includes the "more than a dozen" volcanos that have continuous activity.

    When trying to determine if there has been a change, you have to compare like with like. If we look at the GVP data, we see no change. We can see that the GVP data is different to the VD data, but can we see if the VD data itself indicates any change? The VD data is from there page "What's Erupting", which has been operating in this form since January 2012, as can be seen on the Internet Archive:
    Which shows 31 erupting volcanoes, however 21 of them are volcanos that are still listed as "erupting" in May 2015 (I've marked them with green in the image above). If we then go forward to Jun 22 2014, we again have 31, but now 19 of them were listed in both 2012 and 2015.

    There's not enough data to determine any trend from VD, but what we can say is that the majority of volcanoes that they list are not new activity at all, and are simply volcanoes that show some activity pretty much every year.

    The bottom line - looking at the actual Smithsonian data shows no increase. The Volcano Discovery is a different data set aimed at tourists, which you can't directly compare with the Smithsonian. Even then, the VD data does not show an increase that not within normal variations.

    One final thing, Snyder says "34 of them are on the Ring of Fire". Well that's hardly surprising, seeing as the Ring of Fire spans the entire world, and contains 75% of the worlds active and dormant volcanoes.


    Link to raw Smithsonian data: https://www.metabunk.org/sk/GVP_Eruption_Results.xls (38MB file)
    Last edited: May 23, 2016
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  2. Henk001

    Henk001 Active Member

    Thanks. I often encounter claims like these. This is very helpful in rebutting them. Likewise the increase in the number of earthquakes, sinkholes, etc., supposedly indicating the imminent arrival of Nibiru, the end of the world, the return of Jesus, or whatever.
    I tried to figure out what was true about the earthquakes claim a few years ago:
    source: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/
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  3. David Coulter

    David Coulter Active Member

    Similar claims have popped up over the last year in geologic discussion groups on LinkedIn (and other places); the primary one being that a cataclysmic eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera was imminent. It got so annoying that the scientists at the Yellowstone Volcanic Observatory (YVO) responded:

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  4. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    There's an old GVP FAQ on the topic:

    Note their chart shows active volcanoes, not new eruptions, which is what the top chart measures.
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  5. Chew

    Chew Senior Member

    And meteors. Don't forget meteors. :D

    During the height of the Nibiru hysteria there were numerous fearmongers claiming an increase in meteor activity. I graphed the number of meteors detected per day by NASA's Fireballs Network all-sky cameras to show there hadn't been any increase. It is only for cameras 1 through 4; they add more cameras from time to time so I just used those cameras. Here is an updated graph. The red line is the linear trend.

    fireballs as of 2015-05-14.
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  6. Henk001

    Henk001 Active Member

    Thanks again. Useful as well. Nice to see the Perseids and Geminids peak every year. I still have a question. The vertical axis says "meteors per day". But when I spend a night watching Perseids I see a few dozen per hour. So I wonder if this is about all meteors or just fireballs?
  7. Chew

    Chew Senior Member

    @Henk001, the system appears to only trigger on meteors brighter than magnitude -1.5.
  8. croy153

    croy153 New Member

    I noticed what you did until I added all other magnitudes from 4.0 and up. Sorry the chart is a little busy. What do You think?
  9. Hama Neggs

    Hama Neggs Senior Member

    Increase in number and sensitivity of reporting stations. Maybe somebody has the stats on that.
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  10. Henk001

    Henk001 Active Member

    I think Hama Neggs is right. From the USGS:
    A bit more info from http://alabamaquake.com/education.html
    Last edited: May 19, 2015
  11. croy153

    croy153 New Member

    Thanks for this detailed response. The information is really helpful in regards understanding what's really happening and how to interrupt the data.
  12. Auldy

    Auldy Senior Member

    The NASA Fireballs Network sounds so bad-ass.
  13. Whitebeard

    Whitebeard Senior Member

    and its a great name for a psychobilly band.
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  14. Cairenn

    Cairenn Senior Member

  15. DeWild1

    DeWild1 New Member

    There has been more 4.0 and above lately than ever before recoded. This is just sleep fuel. Never mind the active volcanoes and Mt. St. Hellen getting ready to pop again.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2016
  16. Spectrar Ghost

    Spectrar Ghost Senior Member

    Which ones? What about them?


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  17. Mark Holtz

    Mark Holtz New Member

    Do you happen to have a link to that chart at the top of your post? I'm in a debate with some conspiracy theorists who insist that volcanic activity is through the roof the last several years, and you can't tell them otherwise, because last year there were two volcanoes erupting at the same time on different parts of the globe and that's never happened before in all of history so THERE!!! If I could link that chart, it would be a boon, but I can't find it on the website you linked.

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2018
  18. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I made the chart from the data. I don't remember how, as it was years ago.
  19. Landru

    Landru Moderator Staff Member

    It looks like you can download to a spreadsheet format.
  20. Mark Holtz

    Mark Holtz New Member

    Ah, OK... thanks. As it is, they seem to have accepted the chart without a link - or at least, didn't challenge it. Kinda scurried away from it, to be honest... I just hate posting data without cites, but in this case it appears to have worked out OK.

    Apparently, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and storms are at an all time high. For some mysterious reason, nobody can provide any supporting data for that, but it just is. And that's that! :-D
  21. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Okay I figures it out again, so I'll write it down this time :)

    From Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program (GVP_ database of eruptions), I selected "Confirmed eruptions", then "Check all (countries)". Then on the next page, "Download Results to Excel".

    I then made a column of the numbers 1945 to 2018, then an adjacent column with the formula:


    (Where the I column is the year per eruption, and Z is the new year column)

    This gives:

    Metabunk 2018-12-30 22-52-19.

    and I've added a chart just by selecting the two new columns. Then pretty it up, and add a trend line.

    This one is to 2018, and there's really been no change.
    Metabunk 2018-12-30 22-54-14.
  22. Whitebeard

    Whitebeard Senior Member

    Here is a chart, updated every few minutes, of all current volcanic activity around the world
    You will see there are a fair few volcanos whose activity is described as 'eruptive', this not unusual.
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  23. Mark Holtz

    Mark Holtz New Member

    Thank you very much, both of y'all... not able as of yet to "like" posts, apparently, but surely would if I only could!
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