Volcanoes in the British Isles and Overseas Territories

Although we have no active volcanoes in the British Isles, we are affected by volcanic eruptions: the 2010 and 2011 eruptions of the Eyjafjallajökull and Grismvötn volcanoes in Iceland caused major disruption to air traffic in the north Atlantic and Europe.

These eruptions weren't unusual - for hundreds of thousands of years ash from Icelandic volcanoes has been carried over the British Isles.

Find out more about the links between Iceland and the British Isles here.

But it's not only volcanoes that can affect the British Isles that we're concerned with. Of the 14 UK Overseas Territories four are considered to be volcanically active:

On some of these islands, local communities are living on the flanks of active volcanoes.

Two of these islands have experienced volcanic activity in the last few decades, and the BGS played a significant role in responding to these crises:

The Soufrière Hills Volcano in Montserrat, in the Lesser Antilles, began erupting in 1995 and caused many Montserratians to leave the island. An exclusion zone is still in place in the south of Montserrat. BGS staff worked at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) between 1996 and 2008, and continue to work closely with MVO.

The residents of Edinburgh on Tristan da Cunha, one of the most remote communities in the world, were temporarily evacuated in 1963 because of a volcanic eruption. BGS responded to an offshore eruption near Tristan da Cunha in 2004.

Ascension, another populated remote island in the South Atlantic Ocean, is also considered to be volcanically active.

British citizens travel overseas more than ever before and UK businesses are increasingly international in terms of supply chains, communications and customers, so the BGS works closely with universities, volcano observatories and governments to better understand and communicate the hazards and risks posed by volcanoes wordwide.

Research Projects

Timing is everything: anticipating future eruptive activity on Ascension Island

Leverhulme funded research project on the volcanic history of Ascension.


For more information on UK volcanoes, contact Dr Sue Loughlin or Dr Brian Baptie