2016: The Year in Volcanic Activity

Although this has been a relatively average year for the world's active volcanoes, the activity that did take place was still spectacular. Out of an estimated 1,500 active volcanoes, 50 or so erupt every year, spewing steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava. In 2016, erupting volcanoes included Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador, Villarrica in Chile, Mount Sinabung in Indonesia, Piton de la Fournaise on Réunion Island, Kilauea on Hawaii, Pavlof Volcano in Alaska, Mount Bromo in Indonesia,  Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia’s Erta Ale volcano, and more. Collected below are scenes from the wide variety of volcanic activity on Earth over the past year. [32 photos total]

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Lightning flashes above an erupting Sinabung volcano, seen from the Karo district in North Sumatra province, Indonesia, on February 29, 2016. (Sutanta Aditya / NurPhoto / Corbis / Getty) #
This picture taken on September 11, 2016 shows a molten lava spray after a volcanic eruption from "The Peak of the Furnace" (Le Piton de la Fournaise) on the eastern side of the on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion. (Richard Bouhet / AFP / Getty) #
Pavlof Volcano, one of Alaska’s most active volcanoes, erupts, sending a plume of volcanic ash into the air on March 27, 2016. Pavlof is 625 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Alaska Peninsula, the finger of land that sticks out from mainland Alaska toward the Aleutian Islands. (Colt Snapp / AP) #
The Tungurahua volcano spews fumes and lava on February 27, 2016 in Huambalo, Ecuador, affecting neighboring parishes with ashfall. (Juan Cevallos / AFP / Getty) #
Women play soccer as the Tungurahua volcano spews a column of ash during an eruption in Huambalo, Ecuador, on March 5, 2016. Tungurahua is 16,480 feet (5,023 meters) high and has been active since 1999. (Dolores Ochoa / AP) #
Picture taken with a drone of the church of San Juan Parangaricutiru in Angahuan, Michoacan State, Mexico on January 17, 2016. The town of San Juan Parangaricutiru was destroyed in 1943 by an eruption of the Paricutin volcano. (Mario Vazquez / AFP / Getty) #
People stand on the edge of the crater while watching the eruption of Mount Bromo in Probolinggo, Indonesia, on July 12, 2016. (Ari Bowo Sucipto / Antara Photo Agency / Reuters) #
A local resident rests on a bench as Mount Bromo volcano erupts in the background in Ngadisari, Probolinggo, East Java, Indonesia, on January 5, 2016. (Darren Whiteside / Reuters) #
Volcanic lightning is seen at an eruption of Mount Sakurajima, in this photo taken from Tarumizu city, Kagoshima prefecture, Japan, on February 5, 2016. (Kyodo / Reuters) #
An Indonesian miner carries baskets of solid sulphur from the quarry in Kawah Ijen, an active volcano in the remote Banyuwangi regency in East Java on June 15, 2016. By day, traditional miners brave the highly toxic gases to extract huge chunks of sulphur from the shores of a large turquoise lake within the crater. (Goh Chai Hin / AFP / Getty) #
Brilliant blue flames light up the night sky above Kawah Ijen on June 15, 2016, casting an eerie electric glow as they flow down the sides of the active volcano. Hot sulphuric gases -- escaping at high pressure through cracks in this legendary mountain -- ignite upon contact with air, burning a fantastic, iridescent blue. (Goh Chai Hin / AFP / Getty) #
Tourists gather after sandboarding down the Cerro Negro volcano, in Leon, Nicaragua, some 100km northwest from Managua, on September 24, 2016. (Inti Ocon / AFP / Getty) #
A tourist sandboards down the Cerro Negro volcano, in Leon, Nicaragua, on September 24, 2016. (Inti Ocon / AFP / Getty) #
Partial view of the Nyiragongo volcano taken from Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, on April 21, 2016. (Pablo Porciuncula / AFP / Getty) #
An aerial view shows the Pacific island of Nishinoshima, also known as Rosario Island, where researchers started surveillance activities for the first time since its eruption in 2013, some 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo, Japan, on October 20, 2016. The 2013 eruption created a new island that merged into the older Nishinoshima island, creating this new landmass approximately 1 kilometer wide. (Kyodo / Reuters) #
Indonesia's Mount Soputan volcano spews lava and ash during an eruption as seen from Silian 3 village in Minahasa Tenggara, Indonesia's Sulawesi island, on January 5, 2016. (Adwit B Pramono / Antara Photo Agency / Reuters) #
An Afar guard stands in front of the lava lake in the crater of the Erta Ale volcano in the Afar region of Ethiopia on February 27, 2016. (Eric Lafforgue / Art in All of Us / Corbis via Getty) #
An aerial view of Nevado del Tolima and Nevado del Ruiz volcanoes showing a plume of ash on November 21, 2016 in Colombia. (Luis Robayo / AFP / Getty) #
The Volcano of Fire (El Volcan del Fuego) releases lava, seen from Escuintla, Guatemala, on January 4, 2016. Officials asked nearby communities to remain vigilant amid a state of yellow alert. (Moises Castillo / AP) #
Mount Sinabung on Sumatra island is seen from Karo unleashing gas and fine rock during a volcanic eruption on October 31, 2016. (Tibta Pangin / AFP / Getty) #
Residents leave the area during an eruption of Mount Sinabung in Sukandebi village, Karo, North Sumatra, Indonesia, on May 24, 2016, (Antara Photo Agency / Reuters) #
The Villarrica volcano shows signs of activity, taken from Pucon, some 800 km south of Santiago, Chile, on April 4, 2016. (Sebastian Escobar / AFP / Getty) #
In this September 28, 2016 photo, the lava lake atop Kilauea volcano erupts on Hawaii’s Big Island. (USGS / AP) #
June 23, 2016. A Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) geologist collects a fresh lava sample from Kilauea volcano for chemical analysis. The lobe being sampled was typical of the many scattered pāhoehoe breakouts along the flow margin. (HVO / USGS) #
June 28, 2016. An HVO geologist photographs the front of the channelized ʻaʻā flow from Kilauea. (HVO / USGS) #
June 29, 2016. The lava flow front from Kilauea volcano reaches base of the pali, burning vegetation. The front consisted of ʻaʻā that was fed by a narrow channel extending down the steep section of the pali. (HVO / USGS) #
Visitors look at lava from Kilauea as it flows toward the ocean in Volcanoes National Park near Kalapana, Hawaii, on August 8, 2016. The current lava flow erupted from a vent on the volcano in May and made its way to the sea in late July. Visitors can hike about 10 miles round trip to see the lava, or take a boat or helicopter tour to see the flow. (Caleb Jones / AP) #
Kīlauea lava continues to flow into the ocean at Kamokuna on September 30, 2016. A large skylight was visible to observers on the 61g upper flow field, exposing the flowing molten lava below the solid crust above. In this image, the skylight is about 5 m or 16 feet wide. (Lil DeSmither / HVO / USGS) #
Lava from Kilauea flows into the ocean as seen from a boat operated by Lava Ocean Tours off the coast of Volcanoes National Park on August 9, 2016. (Caleb Jones / AP) #
Lava cuts across a road, flowing into the ocean on July 29, 2016. The ocean entries are adding lava to the rubble at the bottom of the sea cliff. Black sand—formed by the interaction of hot lava and cool seawater, as well as by wave erosion of the rocky cliff—is also accumulating along the coastline. (HVO / USGS) #
Close-up view (using a zoom lens from a safe distance) of lava streaming into the sea at the eastern Kamokuna ocean entry on Kīlauea. (HVO / USGS) #
A tourist takes a selfie in front of the lava lake in the crater of Ethiopia's Erta Ale volcano on February 27, 2016. (Eric Lafforgue / Art in All of Us / Corbis via Getty) #

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