Dangerous Places of the World

The Big Three

Earthquakes and volcanoes, while not common everywhere, are quite common in many other places around the world; much like wind, rain, sleet, and snow. Some places, however, experience them more violently than others. These are some of the most dangerous places in the world, based on the frequency, cost of damage, or the severity of the eruption or quakes that occur. These wonders of nature are usually frequent in locations that sit near or on Tectonic Plate boundaries, but that is not always the case. Whatever the case is, here are three locations to really watch out for: Hawaii, Chile, and the Caribbean.

Mauna Loa, Hawaii

Just For R&R

The island of Hawaii counts 186,738 permanent residents as of the year 2011 and a record-breaking 7.8 million tourists in the year 2012 alone. What makes this little island such a big attraction? Perhaps the balmy, Hawaiian weather, which makes for a great, tropical R&R environment? Hawaii also has a steady climate year-round, with not too many extreme temperature fluctuations either way. Hawaii has plenty of beautiful beaches and convenient parks, and the unemployment rate is 6.5%; 2.1% below the national average. Whatever be the case, Hawaii is still popular as one of the United States’ most beautiful tourist attractions.


Hawaii is a major hotspot sitting in the North Pacific Ocean in the center of the Pacific Plate. Hot Spot Locations differ from plate boundaries because they are formed of weak spots in the Earth’s crust which allow magma to seep through and rise to the surface, though sometimes Hotspots can occur in sub-duction zones between plate boundaries as well. This hotspot location is still highly active, with over 30 historical eruptions from the Mauna Loa Volcano alone since 1843. It is ranked #3 among the most active U.S. states in terms of earthquake activity, but this is more due the frequent eruptions rather than tectonic movement. Before the pause in activity in 1984, it was estimated to have one major eruption every 6 years.

Why So Dangerous?

Mauna Loa, or “Large Mountain” in Hawaiian, is currently the largest, most active volcano on the planet. This enormous shield-type volcano covers more than half the entire island of Hawaii, and is responsible for 85 percent of all the other Hawaiian Islands. Mauna Loa’s peak rises to a whopping 13,680 feet above sea level, covering just about 2,035 square miles of land. That’s roughly 50.5% of the entire Hawaiian Island. Its last eruption occurred in 1984, and it has been going through a period of slight deflation since then. However, between the years 2002 until 2005, scientists observed the occurrence of some inconsistent inflation in the volcano. Between the years 2004 and 2005, the inflation became very steady, suggesting to the scientists that the amount of magma in the volcano is swelling. Lava flows from this volcano can cover 310 miles of the Hawaiian island. Incidents have occurred where magma flowing from this volcano would almost flow into towns and threaten damage. One occurrence from the eruption in 1984 was near the city of Hilo, Hawaii where lava reached as close as just 4 miles within the outskirts of the city itself. It is because of these reasons Hawaii is such a beautiful, yet increasingly dangerous, place to live.


The Area

Chile is a relatively small country with a population of roughly 17,067,396 people (2012), and stretches around 4,300 km, or 2,700 mi, down the southwestern coast of South America. The steep peaks of the Andes Mountain rage covers nearly 1/3 of its area and although the northern most part of the country is part of the harsh Atacama Desert, the middle region is a large river valley, occupied by vineyards and large farms as well as thick forests and clear lakes. Chile’s southern area is marked by Cape Horn, a dangerous area surrounded by continuously storm-tossed waters. A varying climate is another characteristic of the region. From extreme heat in the north, to a warm, Mediterranean climate in the middle of the country, to the cool, Oceanic temperatures in the southern tip, the multiple temperature regions easily accommodate any person’s personal preferences.


Located along the boundary between the South American plate, the Nazca plate, and the Antarctic plate, Chile is a highly active area for tectonic activity. Though the area isn’t known for any major volcanic activity, it has a large number of earthquakes. Nearly the entire country is subject to earthquakes due to the slip-strike fault located on the boundary between the Nazca and Antarctic plate. As those two plates push together, it creates friction that causes the plates to slide past one another. Chile is also located near several subduction zones. A subduction zone is where two plates push together, causing one plate to be forced under the other.


What make Chile a dangerous place to live are the plate boundaries that surround it. With the edges of the South American plate, Nazca plate, and the Antarctic plate all located along Chile’s coast, it’s no wonder it’s famous for its growing number of earthquakes. Along with the many small earthquakes that most people don’t even feel, the area has had a large number of major earthquakes. The biggest Chilean earthquake was in May, 1960. It rated at a magnitude of nearly 9.5 and killed over 1,000 people. The damaged caused by the earthquake was over several million dollars. Also, in the past 10 years alone, Chile has experienced over 10 devastating earthquakes, all measuring at 6.5 magnitude or higher. These quakes also cause tsunamis, which can travel across the ocean and spread the damage to other countries. Over 1,000 people have been killed in the past few years as a result of these earthquakes and tsunamis.

The Caribbean

A Perfect Get Away

What do you think when you hear the word, "island"? Do you think of sandy beaches? Do you think of crystal clear waters, or do you think of mountains? If any of these is a yes, then you may be thinking of the Caribbean Islands. Maybe this is the place for you. A place only accessible by boat or plane. The Caribbean Islands are some of the most tourist savvy places, other than Europe. With the warm temperatures almost year round, what’s not to love? There are so many things you can do while in the Caribbean. For example: you could hike up the mountains, or go scuba-diving in the ocean. Maybe you want to lie back in a chair on the beach for some R&R time. Or even shop in the stores and get a taste of their Caribbean fashion, and maybe grab a bite to eat from local restaurants.


These Islands have many volcanoes, which are the result of the Cocos and the Caribbean plates being compressed together. This kind of boundary is called a convergent boundary. A convergent boundary is when two plates are being forced into each other. This is the process that also causes mountains to be formed. As the two plates collide with one another, one plate can be forced under the other. Typically the plates force the land upward, thus forming the mountains and volcanoes.


This is one of the most dangerous places in the world. Not only do they have volcanoes, but said volcanoes haven’t erupted for many decades. The time will come when those volcanoes will erupt and it won’t be some small eruption; it will cause major damage. The last volcano that had erupted covered the whole island and, out of 28,000 people, there was only one survivor. Another volcano, a few months later, erupted and killed 1,565 people. The last volcanic eruption took 22 million lives with it. Even with the constant danger of a volcano erupting, people find this place to be relaxing.

To Sum Up

Locations all over the world are unique, each with certain traits and characteristics that make them either safe or dangerous places. Whether it’s rolling hills and sandy beaches, or explosive volcanoes and devastating earthquakes, each is different from others. While there is no exact way to tell if or when something is going to happen, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Be sure to do plenty of research before deciding where to reside, or even before simply choosing a vacation location. One can never be too sure of when the next disaster might strike.