Mount Elbrus: Facts About the Highest Mountain in Europe

Here are some facts about Mount Elbrus.

  • Mount Elbrus is a volcano located in the Caucasus Mountains in Russia. At 5,642 metres in height, it is the highest mountain in Europe.

  • It actually consists of two summits, one about 40 metres higher than the other. The higher peak was first climbed in 1874 by a British expedition led by F. Crauford Grove.
  • Although it is a volcano, it is dormant and there is no record of it ever erupting. However, there are about 260 square km of lava fields and volcanic debris on the mountain.
  • Mount Elbrus is one of the Seven Summits, the name given to the highest mountains on each of the seven continents.

Mount Elbrus

  • The name Elbrus probably comes from a legendary mountain in Iranian mythology.
  • One of Europe’s highest outhouses, or toilets, is located on Mount Elbrus. It is covered in snow and ice and perched at the end of a large lump of rock.
  • In 1956, a group of 400 mountaineers climbed Mount Elbrus at the same time.
  • About 30 climbers die on the mountain each year, making it one of the deadliest.
  • A cable car built in the 1960s takes visitors to a height of 3,800 metres. From there it is a simple climb to the summit and there are several refuges, or mountain huts, offering shelter.
  • In 1997, a Russian team tried to drive a Land Rover to the summit. They used a winch and chains to pull it the last few metres to the summit and constantly had to replace the parts.
  • Mount Elbrus is important in Greek mythology. It is the place where Zeus imprisoned Prometheus and sent an eagle with long wings to eat his liver.
  • The Elbrus world race first took place in 1990. It is a series of winter sporting events on and around the mountain and in 2014 attracted over 350 athletes from 16 countries.

What next? Discover more mountain facts by visiting our mountains resources page.

Mount Tambora: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Mount Tambora.

  • Mount Tambora is an active volcano located on the island of Sumbawa in Indonesia. Indonesia has over 150 active volcanoes making it one of the most active areas in the world.
  • The volcano is currently about 2,850 metres high. However, during the 17th and 18th centuries, movements in the earth temporarily increased its height to over 4,000 metres.

Mount Tambora

  • The April 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora was one of the most powerful ever. An estimated 140 billion tonnes of ash, rock and debris were erupted, some landing over 1,000 km away.

  • The 1815 eruption was heard over 2,000 km away on the island of Sumatra. Many nearby explorers and traders thought cannons were being fired, and feared a war.
  • A tsunami with waves up to 4 metres high was triggered, and the sky was dark for two days. At least 71,000 people in the area were killed by the huge eruption.
  • The eruption was so powerful that it caused climate changes around the world. Crops failed in Europe and America and the following summer was known as the year without a summer.
  • A village of about 10,000 people was completely buried in the 1815 eruption. This lost settlement was known for making honey, breeding horses and producing medicines and incense.
  • Mount Tambora also erupted at least three times before 1815, in 3900 BC, 3050 BC and 740 AD. A small eruption occurred in 1967 and the volcano is still active today.
  • Tourists can climb the volcano on the Mount Tambora Trail. Only a few hundred people a year reach the top, by walking through thick jungle and along narrow paths.
  • Over 100 species of birds can be seen on and around Mount Tambora. There is also a wildlife reserve covering over 18,000 hectares.

What next? Learn more about volcanoes by visiting our volcano resources page.

Herculaneum: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Herculaneum.

  • Herculaneum was an ancient Roman town located near Naples and Mount Vesuvius in southern Italy. It was named after the Greek hero Hercules and is today a UNESCO World Heritage site.

  • The settlement was founded by the Greeks around 600 BC. Because of its strategic location near the Bay of Naples, the town became an important trading centre.
  • The residents of Herculaneum were probably quite wealthy, as shown by the design of the buildings and some of the archaeological discoveries. At its height, around 20,000 people lived in the city.
  • The nearby volcano, Mount Vesuvius, erupted on August 24th, 79 AD. The people of the city did not think the volcano was a serious threat as it had not erupted for about 800 years.
  • When Mount Vesuvius began to erupt, Herculaneum was evacuated. It was long thought that all of the inhabitants managed to escape, but more than 300 bodies have since been discovered huddled together on the beach and in arched buildings (thought to have been boat houses).
  • The people were killed by the intense heat of generated by the volcano’s eruption. The temperatures were so high (approaching 500 degrees C) that the inhabitants of Herculaneum were killed very quickly, even if they were sheltering in buildings.
  • The buildings in Herculaneum were buried from the ground up, by ash and several flows of boiling mud. Many of the upper floors are still intact and have beautiful mosaics and frescoes.
  • The eruptions of Vesuvius were the first to be documented. Pliny the Younger described the eruptions in letters and today, scientists use the word plinian to describe a volcano erupting.
  • Excavations at Herculaneum were first carried out by Spanish archaeologists in 1738. When nearby Pompeii was discovered, the excavations were halted and then began again during the 20th century.
  • Herculaneum had bath houses for men and women, a gymnasium and a temple. Visitors today can even see the remains of an ancient Roman fast food restaurant which used heated bowls.
  • Many of the structures were expensive villas overlooking the waterfront. One of the most luxurious was the Villa of the Papyri, which may have been the home of Julius Caesar‘s father in law.

What next? Find out more facts about the Romans, or learn all about volcanoes.

Eyjafjallajokull: Facts About the Volcano in Iceland

Here are some facts about Eyjafjallajokull.

  • Eyjafjallajokull is a volcano that is entirely covered by an ice cap. It is located on the south coast of the island of Iceland, about 3km inland.
  • Its unusual and difficult to pronounce name comes from the combination of various words with different meanings. Different parts of the name mean island, mountain and glacier.

  • The ice cap covers an area of about 100 square km, although it is one of the smallest ice caps in the country. Iceland has about 130 volcanic mountains.
  • Eyjafjallajokull is what is known as a stratovolcano, meaning it has a large, steep sided cone. Mount Etna and Mount Vesuvius are also stratovolcanoes and are among the most destructive.
  • The volcano is 1,651 metres high, with a crater of up to 4 km in diameter, containing 3 main peaks. The mountain was once part of the coast, although it has now retreated.
  • Although active, Eyjafjallajokull usually goes several centuries between eruptions, erupting in 920, 1612, 1821 and 2010. The ash from the 1821 eruption can still be found in the area.
  • The eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in May 2010 resulted in the grounding of thousands of flights all over Europe. It was the highest level of air travel disruption since World War 2.
  • The initial eruption caused a 500 metre fissure in a nearby pass. The ash plume that was created reached a height of 11 km.
  • The ash cloud reached as far as the south coast of England, Germany and parts of western Russia. Farmers in Iceland were warned to not let livestock drink from water tainted by the ash.
  • Another glacier covered volcano, Katla, is located about 25 km away from Eyjafjallajokull. In the past, an eruption at Eyjafjallajokull was always followed by an eruption at Katla, although in 2010 the volcano was quiet.

What next? Discover more volcano facts by visiting our volcanoes resources page.

Yellowstone Volcano: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the Yellowstone Volcano.

  • The Yellowstone Volcano, also known as the Yellowstone Caldera, is a supervolcano located in the National Park of the same name, in the states of Wyoming and Montana, US.

  • The Yellowstone Volcano is one of the largest volcanic areas in the world. The park contains about half of the Earth’s geothermal features and about 60 percent of all the world’s geysers.
  • The volcano was created during an eruption that took place about 640,000 years ago. The caldera is over a spot where hot, molten rock rises towards the surface.
  • Major eruptions of the Yellowstone Volcano happen about every 600,000 to 800,000 years. Two of the past explosions have been among the most powerful ever.
  • The magma is the reason for the many geysers and hot springs in the park. Yellowstone has over 300 geysers, and over 10,000 hot springs and bubbling mud holes.
  • A geyser is created when the steam is forced through the surface by the high temperatures beneath the surface. Old Faithful is the most famous geyser at Yellowstone and erupts almost every 91 minutes.
  • The huge magma chamber in the Yellowstone Volcano is at least 50 percent larger than first thought. It measures about 37 miles long, 18 miles wide and up to 7 miles deep in parts.
  • Yellowstone is considered to be the world’s first National Park. Its 3,468 square miles of mountains, canyons, forests, geysers and hot springs attract 2 million tourists every year.
  • There are between 1,000 and 2,000 earthquakes each year at the Yellowstone Volcano. In early 2010, there were over 1,600 small earthquakes within the space of a few weeks.
  • A major volcanic eruption at Yellowstone is not likely to happen soon. Geologists studying volcanic activity at the park predict that it might not happen for at least another 30,000 years.

What next? Discover more facts about volcanoes, or visit our mountains resources page.

Mount Pinatubo Facts

Here are some facts about Mount Pinatubo.

  • Mount Pinatubo is located in the Cabusilan Mountains on Luzon, an island in the Philippines.
  • It as an active volcano and it is classified as a stratovolcano – with tall, steep sides formed from layers of volcanic ash, pumice and hardened lava.

  • Mount Pinatubo’s eruption on 15th June 1991 was one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century.
  • It is estimated that ash was propelled more than 30 km into the air and pyroclastic flows (a current of hot gas and rocks) extend more than 10 km from the summit of Mount Pinatubo.

Mount Pinatubo

  • The ash cloud from the 1991 eruption covered an area of more than 100,000 sq km and the island of Luzon was plunged into darkness.
  • The eruption was about ten times as powerful as the eruption of Mt St Helens in 1980.
  • Even though thousands of people were evacuated, more than 800 people were killed during the 1991 eruption. The situation was made worse because Typhoon Yunya was affecting the Philippines at the same time as the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.
  • Before the eruption, the US Air Force had two bases on the island of Luzon – Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base. Following the eruption, Clark has been abandoned and Subic is now controlled by Philippine forces.
  • Volcanologists have predicted that further eruptions will take place in the near future.
  • The eruption formed a crater lake called Lake Pinatubo.
  • It is thought that an eruption of Mount Pinatubo about 35000 years ago was much larger than the 1991 eruption.
  • The Aeta people, who lived on the slopes of the volcano, were the hardest hit by the eruption. Forced to evacuate their homes, they returned to find their villages decimated by the eruption and many of them have been relocated by the government of the Philippines.

What next? Discover more volcano facts by visiting the Primary Facts volcanoes resources page.

Mauna Loa: Facts About the Largest Volcano in the World

Here are some facts about Mauna Loa, one of the volcanoes of Hawaii.

  • Mauna Loa is the largest volcano in the world (in terms of its area and volume).
  • It has an area of 5,271 sq km (about 2,000 sq miles) and makes up just over half of the island of Hawaii. Four other volcanoes (Kohala, Mauna Kea, Hualalai and Kilauea) form the other 50% of the island.

  • Mauna Loa is a shield volcano, a type of volcano known to grow to colossal sizes.
  • It has an estimated volume of 75,000 cubic km, and its magma chamber extends about 3 miles below sea level.
Mauna Loa
Map of Hawaii showing the location of Mauna Loa.
  • Mauna Loa is an active volcano. Its last eruption was in 1984 and since the 1840s it has erupted at least 30 times.
  • In 1942 it was feared that the eruption of Mauna Loa in that year would act like a beacon and attract a Japanese bombing run on Hawaii during World War 2.
  • Eruptions of Mauna Loa tend to be non-explosive and feature lava fountains.
  • It has been estimated that Mauna Loa has been active for 700,000 years.
  • Mauna Loa has long, gradually slanting slopes that extend to the sea floor.
  • Mauna Loa rises from the sea floor, and its height from its base to its summit is 9170 metres. This is greater than the height of Mount Everest.
  • Mauna Loa, a name of Hawaiian origin, literally translates to Long Mountain.
  • The summit of Mauna Kea, another Hawaiian volcano, is slightly higher than the peak of Mauna Loa. The difference is about 30 metres.
  • Mauana Loa’s summit is often snow-covered.

What next? Discover more volcano facts or learn about some of the world’s most important mountains.

Mount Teide: Facts About the Highest Point in Spain

Here are some facts about Mount Teide, the massive volcano on the island of Tenerife.

  • Located on Tenerife in the Canary Islands (a Spanish-owned island chain off the north-west coast of Africa), the summit of Mount Teide at  3178 metres (just over 12000 feet) is the highest point in Spain.

  • It is the third highest volcano in the world.
    The most recent eruption of Mount Teide happened in 1909. It also erupted in 1798, 1706, 1705 and 1704.
  • On his voyage of discovery Christopher Columbus apparently saw the 1492 eruption of Mount Teide when he was sailing past Tenerife.
  • Mount Teide is currently a dormant volcano, but many scientists believe it will erupt again in the near future.
  • In the mid seventeenth century a group of Englishmen were the first Europeans to reach the summit of Mount Teide. The group included Philips Ward, George Cove and John Webber.
  • To the Gaunches (the original, pre-Spanish invasion, inhabitants of Tenerife) Teide was a sacred mountain and the home of Guayota, the devil.
  • Mount Teide is a stratovolcano, formed from layers of hardened lava and volcanic ash.
  • Several plants can only be found on the slopes of Mount Teide. These include: the Teide white broom and the Teide daisy.
Mount Teide (Source)
Mount Teide (Source)
  • Mount Teide appears on Tenerife’s coat of arms and it used feature on the back of the 1000 Peseta note (before Spain adopted the Euro as its national currency).
  • Mount Teide and the areas of land directly surrounding it make up the Teide National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is visited by nearly 3 million visitors every year.
  • In winter temperatures at the summit temperatures can vary between -5 and -10 degrees C. The summit is often covered with snow.
  • The Spanish name for Mount Teide is Pico del Teide.

What next? Check out the Primary Facts resources page on Volcanoes, or discover some facts about Mount Etna and Mount Vesuvius, other stratovolcanoes.

10 Volcano Facts

Here are some key facts about volcanoes.

  • Volcanoes are vents or cracks in the Earth’s surface through which hot gases, molten rock and debris are emitted. There are about 1,900 volcanoes in the world.

  • Volcanoes can be either active, dormant or extinct. An active volcano has erupted during the last 1,000 years and is likely to erupt again, a dormant volcano has not erupted recently and an extinct one is unlikely to erupt again.
  • There are about 100 active volcanoes in the US, and the one most likely to erupt is Mount Rainier. However, the country with the most active volcanoes is Indonesia with about 160.
  • Most volcanoes form over thousands of years, although they can also appear very quickly. In 1943, a volcano named Paricutin appeared in a Mexican field and was about 60 feet tall in a week, growing to a height of 1,000 feet in a year.
  • There may be as many as 10,000 volcanoes on the ocean floor. One of the most famous is Surtsey, off the coast of Iceland, which erupted and formed a new island in 1963; the island is now home to thousands of seals and seagulls.
  • Around the world, about 5 million people live close to active volcanoes. One of the most famous is Mount Vesuvius in Italy, and several million people live dangerously close to it.
  • One of the most devastating volcanic eruptions was the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, which killed about 36,000 people. The eruption made one of the loudest sounds ever heard and had the strength of 15,000 nuclear bombs.


  • Hawaii and Iceland are both volcanic islands, and because of this they have black beaches. The sand is actually made from the lava cooling down, creating a rock called basalt.
  • In Iceland and other volcanic areas, the heat from volcanoes is used to run power plants and produce hot water. In Japan, many people bathe in warm volcanic sand to cure various illnesses and skin conditions.
  • The farmland around volcanoes is some of the most fertile in the world, because of the nutrients present in the volcanic ash. One species of bird, the maleo, incubates its eggs by using the heat from volcanic sand.

What next? Vistit the Primary Facts resouces page on Volcanoes.

Mount St Helens Facts

Here are some facts about Mount St Helens, the famous volcano.

  • Mount St Helens is located in Washington State, in the northwestern part of the United States. It is almost 100 miles from Seattle, and 50 miles from Portland.

  • The volcano is 4,400 feet high at its highest point, and the base is about 6 miles across. Snow on the upper slopes of the volcano is often 15 feet deep.
  • The deadliest volcanic eruption in the US occurred at Mt St Helens on May 18, 1980. 57 people were killed, 250 homes destroyed, and almost 200 miles of highway destroyed.
  • Some of the first creatures to return to the volcano after the 1980 eruption were beetles and spiders. Scientists helped wild salmon to return by transporting them to streams in large tanks.
  • An eruption several times more powerful than the 1980 eruption took place about 3,600 years ago. It caused Native American Indians in the area to abandon their hunting grounds.
  • Most of Mount St Helens is less than 3,000 years old. This makes the volcano younger than the Great Pyramid in Egypt and Stonehenge in England.

Mount St Helens

  • The volcano erupted without stopping from September, 2004 to January, 2008. During this time, the Crater Glacier was split into two and the volcano settled about a half inch.
  • In August, 1982, Mount St Helens was declared to be a National Volcanic Monument. The site covers 110,000 acres and an estimated 1.5 million people visited between 1982 and 1989.
  • Like all volcanoes, Mount St Helens is constantly growing and changing shape because of the accumulation of erupted material. Since late 2004, a second lava dome has increased in volume by several square metres every second.
  • Although hiking up the mountain is popular, another popular way to see what is happening on the volcano is with the official VolcanoCam. The website attracts an estimated 1.8 million viewers every day. Click here to check it out.

What next? Discover more volcano facts or visit the Primary Facts Mountain resources page.