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Volcanic Explosivity Index

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Volcanic Explosivity Index chart.

In volcanology, the Volcanic Explosivity Index is the way to measure the strength of a volcanic eruption. The Volcanic Explosivity Index measures how large or strong volcanic eruptions are. The index is a scale of 1 to 8. 1 is very small, and 8 is huge and very rare.

The largest eruption in modern times, the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, was a 5 on the index. The Oruanui eruption of the Taupo Volcano in New Zealand was the world’s largest known eruption in the past 70,000 years was an 8. Another eruption of the Taupo volcano happened about 1,800 years ago. It was the most violent eruption in the world in the last 5,000 years. Mt Tambora was a 7 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index.

Further reading

  • Christopher G. Newhall; Steve Self (1982). "The volcanic explosivity index (VEI): An estimate of explosive magnitude for historical volcanism". Journal of Geophysical Research (87): 1231–1238. 
  • Ben G. Mason; David M. Pyle, and Clive Oppenheimer (2004). "The size and frequency of the largest explosive eruptions on Earth" (PDF). Bulletin of Volcanology 66 (8): 735–748. doi:10.1007/s00445-004-0355-9

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