The launch of a new GVP website is scheduled for Monday, May 20, 2013.
This region was appropriately placed first by the Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World organizers in their numbering sequence: It is marked by traditions of record-keeping that go back thousands of years and by generations of historians devoted to mining those records. It is often called the "Cradle of Western Civilization," but it is also very much the cradle of volcanology. The earliest known documentation of volcanism is an Anatolian wall painting of a nearby cinder cone eruption around 6200 BC; the vigorous record of Etna goes back to 1500 BC; and the catastrophic eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, with the burial of Pompeii, continues to serve today as an object lesson in volcanism. The region has given us the first documented "new mountain," Monte Nuovo, in 1538, the first "new island" at Santorini, in 197 BC, and the word "volcano" itself (derived from Vulcan, the Roman god of fire).
The mid-18th century work of Guettard and Desmerest on pre-historic volcanoes of central France, and Hutton's work on older volcanics in Scotland taught the world that contemporary processes explain the volcanic landforms and rocks of the past. Regular documentation of volcanism began with Vesuvius: Lord Hamilton's systematic observations from 1766 through 1794, the world's first volcano observatory in 1845, and Palmieri's seismographic monitoring of the 1872 eruption. In 1879, Fouque's monograph on Santorini explained the fundamentals of caldera collapse 4 years before the Krakatau eruption—on the other side of the globe—gave the world a dramatic example of the process. And the continuing vigor of both volcanism and volcanology in this important region adds to our understanding of volcanoes every year.
This region's eruptive record is easily the longest of any. Roughly half of its 52 volcanoes have dated eruptions and more than half of these begin with BC events. Many of these were dated by radiocarbon or other techniques, but a remarkably large number were documented by humans. By 500 AD—85% of the way through the Holocene—61 eruptions had been historically documented in the world and 57 of them were from Region 01.
The volcanism of this broad region, stretching from Spain to the Caucasus, is largely the result of convergence between the Eurasian Plate and the northward-moving African Plate. The geology is diverse and complex, with microplates defying easy tectonic generalizations. However, subduction under the Greek islands (Hellenic arc) and southern Italy (Calabrian arc) explains the region's principal volcanic centers.
The combined human population of all volcano-bearing nations in this region approaches 400 million and is second only to Region 10 (with mainland Asia) in population.
Region 01 accounts for 11% (224) of eruptions known to have produced lava flows, most being from Etna's remarkable 3,500 year history. The region also produces high proportions of the world's known radial fissure and submarine eruptions. It has the largest proportion (8%) of volcanoes with lava domes as their primary feature. Strong attention to the ancient record is shown by the variety of unusual dating techniques used (>80% of all dates from K-Ar and varves, three from thermoluminescence, and one from fission tracks). The region also has the largest number (26) of discredited eruptions.