The Year in Volcanic Activity

Out of an estimated 1,500 active volcanoes around the world, 50 or so erupt every year, spewing steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava. In 2011, active volcanoes included Chile's Puyehue, Japan's Shinmoedake, Indonesia's Lokon, Iceland's Grímsvötn, Italy's Etna, and recently Nyamulagira in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Hawaii, Kilauea continues to send lava flowing toward the sea, and the ocean floor has been erupting near the Canary Islands. Collected below are scenes from the wide variety of volcanic activity on Earth over the past year. [36 photos total]

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A cloud of ash billowing from Puyehue volcano near Osorno in southern Chile, 870 km south of Santiago, on June 5, 2011. Puyehue volcano erupted for the first time in half a century on June 4, 2011, prompting evacuations as it sent up a cloud of ash that circled the globe. (Claudio Santana/AFP/Getty Images) #
Shinmoedake peak erupts between Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures, in this aerial view seen on January 28, 2011. Ash and rocks fell across a wide swath of southern Japan straddling the prefectures of Miyazaki and Kagoshima, as one of Mount Kirishima's many calderas erupted, prompting authorities to raise alert levels and call on for an evacuation of all residents within a 2 km (1.2 miles) radius of the volcano. (Reuters/Kyodo) #
Lava spews into the air, higher than the treetops, near the Kamoamoa fissures between Napau Crater and the Pu`u `O `o crater on Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, on March 7, 2011. (USGS) #
Lava pours from from a fissure just after daybreak and cascades out of sight into a deep crack near the town of Volcano, Hawaii, on March 6, 2011. Scientists monitored a new vent that has opened at the Kilauea volcano, sending lava shooting up to 65 feet high. (AP Photo/US Geological Survey) #
Residents look at Mount Bulusan spewing ash in Sorsogon province, south of Manila, Philippines, in February 21, 2011. Mount Bulusan spewed a three-kilometer ash column covering several villages in the southwest. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Lightning cuts through an ash cloud as Shinmoedake peak erupts, as seen from Takaharu Town Office, Miyazaki prefecture, Japan, on January 27, 2011. (Reuters/Takaharu Town Office/Handout) #
Indonesian worshipers descend from the crater of Mount Bromo in East Java province on January 28, 2011. The worshipers gave offerings to the god of the mountain, praying for the safety of local people. (Aman Rahman/AFP/Getty Images) #
A cloud of smoke and ash is seen over the Grímsvötn volcano on Iceland on May 21, 2011. The cloud rising up from Grímsvötn as a result of the eruption was seen first time around 1900 GMT and in less than an hour it had reached an altitude of 11 kilometers (6.8 miles), according to the Icelandic meteorological institute. (Sigurlaug Linnet/AFP/Getty Images) #
Surfers paddle past icebergs covered in ash from the Grímsvötn volcano eruption, in the glacier lagoon at the base of Vatnajokull, Iceland, May 26, 2011. (Reuters/Ingolfur Juliusson) #
NASA Aqua satellite image of the ash plume above the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano chain, near the Chile-Argentina border, seen from low Earth orbit on June 4, 2011. (NASA) #
A view of the ash plume above the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano chain near Entrelagos, on June 5, 2011. The volcano, dormant for decades, erupted in south-central Chile, belching ash over 6 miles (10 km) into the sky, as winds fanned it toward neighboring Argentina, and prompted the government to evacuate several thousand residents, authorities said. (Reuters/Carlos Gutierrez) #
Lightning bolts strike around the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain near southern Osorno city, on June 5, 2011. (Reuters/Ivan Alvarado) #
Houses and trees are covered by volcanic ash on the bank of Nahuel Huapi Lake in Villa La Angostura in southern Argentina, on June 19, 2011, after the nearby eruption of the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain. (AP Photo/Federico Grosso) #
The shore of Nahuel Huapi Lake, covered with a thick blanket of floating ash and pumice released by a volcano from the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano chain, 100 miles (160 km) to the west, in the Argentine resort city of San Carlos de Bariloche, on June 7, 2011. (Reuters/Chiwi Giambirtone) #
An aerial view of the ash plume from an eruption in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain near Osorno city in south-central Chile, on June 5, 2011. Picture taken through an airplane window. (Reuters/Ivan Alvarado) #
Lightning bolts strike around an eruption of the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain near southern Osorno city, on June 5, 2011. (Reuters/Ivan Alvarado) #
Dead fish float among debris and small chunks of pumice in the Nilahue river after the eruption of the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano in Rininahue, southern Chile, on June 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Carlos Succo) #
Mount Lokon spews hot lava and volcanic ash during an eruption in Tomohon in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province, on July 14, 2011. Mount Lokon sent an ash cloud as high as 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) in the north of Sulawesi island, prompting panicked residents to flee the agricultural area, a government official said. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Mount Lokon spews volcanic ash, seen from Tomohon, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, on July 17, 2011. (AP Photo) #
Mount Etna spews lava on the southern Italian island of Sicily, on August 6, 2011. Mount Etna is Europe's tallest and most active volcano. (Reuters/Antonio Parrinello) #
Lava spews from a crater on Mount Etna on the Italian island of Sicily, on July 30, 2011. (Marcello Paternostro/AFP/Getty Images) #
Park rangers and tourists stand near an erupting Mount Nyamulagira in eastern Congo, on Friday, November 11, 2011. Virunga National Park in Congo is inviting tourists on an overnight trek to view a spectacular eruption of Mount Nyamulagira, where rivers of incandescent lava are flowing slowly north into an uninhabited part of the park but pose no danger to its critically endangered mountain gorillas. (AP Photo/Virunga National Park, Cai Tjeenk Willink) #
An eruption from Mount Nyamulagira in eastern Congo sends lava high into the air on November 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Virunga National Park, Cai Tjeenk Willink) #
Hudson volcano, seen during a flight near Coihaique town some 1,649 km (1,025 miles) south of Santiago, Chile, on October 27, 2011. Chile said it had evacuated residents from around a volcano in the country's far south after it spewed a jet of steam a kilometer into the air and seismic activity triggered an avalanche. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Volcanic activity in the sea off the Canary island of El Hierro, seen in this aerial photo taken on November 5, 2011. The regional government of the Canary Islands ordered the evacuation of homes and road closures near the southern tip of El Hierro after two earth tremors and increased offshore volcanic activity caused a buildup of malodorous debris floating on the sea. Seismic activity began in the area on July 17 and residents have since been rocked by more than 10,000 tremors, while underwater fissures have released an almost continuous flow of sulfurous gases, smoke and hot debris. (AP Photo/Canary Islands Government) #
Volcanic fragments called pyroclasts from an underwater volcano float on the surface of the sea off Restinga on the Canary island of El Hierro, Spain, on October 15, 2011. The regional government of Spain's Canary Islands has closed access to a port on El Hierro, ordered shipping to sail away from the area and banned aircraft from flying over the island's southern tip after an underwater volcano began spewing smoking debris. (AP Photo/Canary Island Government) #
An eruption of Nyamulagira volcano, 22 km (14 miles) from the city of Goma, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on November 6, 2011. The eruption appears to be on a lower section of the volcano, or in a separate caldera, with lava flowing north into a non-populated section of the park. (Reuters/Kenny Katombe) #
Tourists take a photo of a new volcanic eruption in Virunga National Park near Goma, on November 24, 2011. Almost three weeks after a fissure opened amidst dense flat forest, the Democratic Republic of Congo's Virunga National Park has seen an increasing number of tourists seeking to be guided on treks to witness the Nyamulagira volcano spewing geysers of lava into the night. Volcano fanatics will have to pay $300 (220 euros) to be escorted to a viewing site in the east of DR Congo, a country wracked by conflict and ranked the world's least developed by the United Nations. (Steve Terill/AFP/Getty Images) #
An eruption of the Nyamulagira Volcano, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, late November 16, 2011. (Reuters/Kenny Katombe) #
A peasant walks as the Tungurahua Volcano (background) spewes ash, in Cotalo, Ecuador, on November 29, 2011. Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano spewed red-hot rock and ash as officials upgraded their eruption warning level to orange and some at-risk communities began evacuations. (Pablo Cozzaglio/AFP/Getty Images) #
Tungurahua Volcano is seen from the town of Guadalupe, Ecuador, on November 28, 2011. (Pablo Cozzaglio/AFP/Getty Images) #
View of the fumarole of Tungurahua volcano, from the town of Cotalo, Ecuador, on November 29, 2011. (Pablo Cozzaglio/AFP/Getty Images) #
Fumes from Pu`u `O `o crater are seen on Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, on December 6, 2011. Lava from the Big Island's Pu`u `O `o crater is flowing toward the ocean. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory spokeswoman Janet Babb tells the Honolulu Star-Advertiser the flow was about 1.5 miles from the ocean. (AP Photo/US Geological Survey) #
Popocatepetl volcano emits steam as seen on the outskirts of the municipality of San Andres Cholula in Puebla, Mexico, on November 20, 2011. (Reuters/Imelda Medina) #
A view of Tungurahua Volcano throwing incandescent rocks and lava, from the town of Runtun, Ecuador, on December 4, 2011. (Pablo Cozzaglio/AFP/Getty Images) #
Tungurahua Volcano throws incandescent rocks and lava into the sky, seen from the nearby town of Runtun, Ecuador, on December 4, 2011. (Pablo Cozzaglio/AFP/Getty Images) #

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