Where Are Extinct Volcanoes Found?

Volcanoes that geologists believe may be extinct are located in such diverse places as Japan, the northern Pacific Ocean, Germany, Peru, the Philippine Sea, Meares Island, the United States, the Netherlands, Australia, Tanzania, France and Russia. Extinct volcanoes are not concentrated in any specific locations.

Geologists define an extinct volcano as one that has not erupted in at least 10,000 years and no longer maintains access to an underground supply of magma to feed its eruptions. For example, the volcanoes that geologists believe created the Hawaiian Islands moved with the tectonic plates that took them away from their supply of magma and left them extinct. As the extinct volcanoes moved west, the magma supply gave rise to new volcanoes to carry the magma from inside the Earth to the surface.

Some volcanoes that technically met the definition for extinction status at one point have later erupted, including Soufriere Hills in Montserrat, which erupted in 1995, and Fourpeaked Mountain in Alaska, which erupted in 2004. Most famously, the presumed extinct Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., when it destroyed the Roman city of Pompeii. Similarly, while Yellowstone Caldera in Yellowstone National Park last erupted at least 640,000 years ago, geologists believe that it is dormant rather than extinct.