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.

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.

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 Etna Facts

Here are some facts about Mount Etna, the famous volcano:

  • Mount Etna is located on the east coast of the Italian island of Sicily, in the Mediterranean.
  • It is almost 11,000 feet high, making it the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps.

  • It is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Almost half of Etna’s major eruptions have happened during the last 100 years.
  • The volcano covers a huge area, of over 460 square miles. About one quarter of the population of the island of Sicily lives on its slopes.
  • Mount Etna has snow on it for most of the year. The sides of the volcano are also home to a large number of animal species, and there are vineyards and olive groves near the foot of the mountain.
  • The most violent eruption was in March, 1669. The mountain erupted lava for several days, which destroyed several nearby villages and the city walls of Catania.

Eruption of Mount Etna

  • Vulcan was the Roman God of metalworking and fire and the Romans believed his workshop was at the base of the mountain. The word ‘volcano’ comes from his name.
  • Some of the lava on the side of Mount Etna is 300,000 years old. Because the geological and atmospheric conditions are similar to those on Mars, scientists have tested space robots here.
  • It is estimated that more than 70 people have died as a result of Mount Etna’s eruptions. However, the mineral rich lava is seen as a good thing by nearby farmers, as it makes the soil more fertile.
  • The volcano has a longer history of written accounts of its eruptions than any other volcano. One of the earliest accounts was by the poet Virgil in his famous book, The Aenid.
  • Mount Etna is popular with tourists, who climb or ski on the mountain. Local people often call Etna ‘Mongibello’ meaning ‘beautiful mountain’ in Italian.

What next? Find out some facts about Mount Vesuvius, a famous volcano in Italy, visit the Primary Facts Volcanoes resources page, or learn about some of the world’s most famous mountains.