Eruptions through crater lakes or shallow seawater, referred to here as subaqueous eruptions, present hazards from hydromagmatic explosions, such as base surges, lahars, and tsunamis, which may not exist at volcanoes on dry land. We have systematically compiled information from eruptions through surface water in order to understand the circumstances under which these hazards occur and what disastrous effects they have caused in the past. Subaqueous eruptions represent only 8% of all recorded eruptions but have produced about 20% of all fatalities associated with volcanic activity in historical time. Excluding eruptions that have resulted in about a hundred deaths or less, lahars have killed people in the largest number of historical subaqueous eruptions (8), followed by pyroclastic flows (excluding base surges; 5) tsunamis (4), and base surges (2). Subaqueous eruptions have produced lahars primarily on high (>1000 m), steep-sided volcanoes containing small (<1 km diameter) crater lakes. Tsunamis and other water waves have caused death or destroyed man-made structures only at submarine volcanoes and at Lake Taal in the Philippines. In spite of evidence that magma-water mixing makes eruptions more explosive, such explosions and their associated base surges have caused fewer deaths, and have been implicated in fewer eruptions involving large numbers of fatalities than lahars and tsunamis. The latter hazards are more deadly because they travel much farther from a volcano and inundate coastal areas and stream valleys that tend to be densely settled.
Additional publication details
The hazards of eruptions through lakes and seawater