Three Dangerous Places

by Emily Laehle, Alex Leinen, D'Artagnan Deuel


On our Earth there are tectonic plates that rub, squeeze and float away. The plates move like this because they are floating on molten rock. When the tectonic plates rub, squeeze and float apart they are creating earthquakes and volcanoes. Earthquakes and volcanoes make other natural disasters like tsunamis and mudslides. When these occur it makes a place very dangerous to live at, because it can destroy houses and kill millions of innocent people. Guatemala, Kilauea, Hawaii, and Java and Sumatra, Indonesia are three of many places that that are very dangerous to live at because of these natural disasters.


In the beautiful country of Guatemala people are mesmerized by the scenic view and the rich Hispanic culture. The country offers a beautiful and primitive aura to the area with the volcanoes nearby. The beaches have beautiful black sand and volcanic beaches. Hiking on the volcanoes are open to the public but the volcanoes are active. Because the volcanoes are active this adds some dangers to the wonderful country of Guatemala.

Guatemala is located on a major fault zone known as the Montagu and Chixoy-Polochic fault complex. This fault line cuts across Guatemala and forms the tectonic plate boundary between the Caribbean plate and the North American plate. Along Guatemala’s western coast line the Cocos plate pushes against the Caribbean plate. This forms a Subduction zone known as the middle American trench. This seduction zone led to form the Central American Volcanic Arc and is the source of off shore earthquakes.

Guatemala is home to 22 volcanoes. Only seven of the 22 volcanoes are active. There have been 26 known earthquakes in Guatemala. With all of the earthquakes put together, there has been around 25,425 deaths. These earthquakes rated 5.0-8.2 on the Richter scale. These statistics make Guatemala one of the most dangerous places to live.

Mount Kilauea, Hawaii

Resting on the southeastern portion of the island of Hawaii, the largest of the five major Hawaiian Island, is a desert among the usually fertile land. It is known as Ka’u Desert, and is composed of volcanic ash, sand, and gravel; it is void of any vegetation due to the acid rain that falls there. The reason behind this barren land, is the shield volcano that rests above the desert. Imagine a lake of lava, always spewing out red-hot magma, fuming with tephra, and a small eruption every now and then. The image you have in your mind is that of Kilauea, the most active volcano on all of the Hawaiian Islands. Every-year roughly two-and-a-half million tourists come and go, but all stop to see the volcano’s caldera and walk the desert that is has created. Another reason that people come to this fiery hotspot is because it is surrounded by scenic views and beautiful resorts and spas (such as seen above). The island itself has a wonderful tropical temperate and feel, and is one of the the most exotic places to live outside of the States themselves.

Kilauea is thousands of miles away from any plate boundary, in fact, it rests almost directly in the middle of the Pacific plate. Also, the nearest fault line is a good distance away and down along the ocean floor. However, as with the whole of the Hawaiian Islands, it rests directly above a hotspot, a place where molten magma has literally burned a hole through the bottom of a plate. This magma slowly forces its way up to the surface, and once it finds some sort of obstacle in its path, it stops. It begins to build pressure until, someday, it pops. In recent history, Kilauea has also caused several rift zones, or places in land that continually spew out lava, to pop up in its area. Its own activity usually coincides with the activities of the nearby Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.

Oozing lava around the clock, and continuously spewing out tephra and ash, Kilauea rarely erupts with any particular force. However, this is what makes it a dangerous place to leave. Kilauea’s lava travels downhill for many miles at a time, and since 1983, has burned down roughly 200 homes and caused significant damage to property and nearby forests. The tephra, rocks, and ash that is launched into the air are toxic and sometimes linger there, killing nearby plant and animal life. At other times it can come down with force, falling on trees and shrubs, flowers and grasses, causing even more damage the surrounding vegetation. A good example of this is the Ka’u desert itself, once fertile and vegetated land thriving with many small animals, now reduced to a barren, rock covered expanse.

Java and Sumatra, Indonesia

Krakatoa is a very volcanic volcano. When Krakatoa erupts it is very violent, meaning when it erupts it don't stop. Krakatoa is located in the Sumatra strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra. Sumatra is the largest island in Indonesia. The name is also used for the surrounding island group, and the volcanoes as a whole.

The Sumatra region is know for the earthquake and volcanic activity. Sumatra region lies on two of the earth's tectonic plates. They are located on the Eurasian Plate and the Australian Plate. The most major fault is the in the west Indonesia, it is called the Semangko Fault. It is a strike-slip fault and runs along the Sumatra Islands. There is also another major feature that is in the central part of Indonesia.

While Krakatoa erupted in 1883, it caused massive tsunamis and it killed at least 36,417 people. Also destroying over two thirds of Krakatoa islands. This volcano was considered to be the loudest sound that people ever heard in that time period. There is a total of 130 volcanoes on the Java and Sumatra islands. The sound could of been heard up to 3,000 miles from the volcano. The shock waves were recorded on a barographs around the world. This is not one of the safest places to live.


The world is a fractured and broken place, both literally and figuratively.When the Earth’s tectonic plates rub, squeeze, and float away it creates volcanoes and earthquakes. They can both destroy houses and kill many of innocent people. Guatemala, Java and Sumatra, Indonesia, and Kilauea, Hawaii are three out of many places that are dangerous because of the natural disasters like earthquakes and volcanoes.Whether you’re a couple wanting to start anew, a family looking for a new view, or a man or woman just tired of their old home, we hope that our list of the top ten most dangerous seismic locations has helped you decide where, or where not, to settle down.