Global Volcanoes by Smithsonian Institution for Google Earth

There was a lot of interest in volcanic eruptions this week after the elevated alert status of Mount Merapi in Java, Indonesia. I just discovered that the Smithsonian Institution has an excellent educational web site about volcanoes which is home to the Global Volcanism Program. It turns out their data serves as a source for the Volcano World data provided in last week’s article. On the new Smithsonian site is a new Google Earth file which shows the locations of all Holocene-era volcanoes (last 10,000 years) . More importantly, the placemarks contain a great deal of useful information and many have excellent photos of the corresponding volcano. This collection is vastly superior to the “Volcano Layer” provided with Google Earth. I highly recommend you check this one out.
Make sure you use the pan/tilt features of Google Earth to view the 3D views of the volcanoes while you are looking at the satellite photos. One thing you may notice is that some of the placemarks do not appear over the tops of volcano peaks. The Smithsonian site explains this in detail, but the primary reason is that they put the placemark at the center of a field of volcanoes/vents in many cases rather than mark each vent.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Thanks for the story, I have heard very little on this topic, thanks for sharing

  2. If I was still at school now, this .kmz-file and article could have had a serious impact on my career…

  3. A version of this file was incorporated into GE as the built-in volcano layer with the June 11, 2006 update.

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