Quick Fact: Australia is the Only Continent Without an Active Volcano

Interesting Facts, January 28, 2024

Bird's eye view of Uluru, Australia's most famous mountain. The iconic monolith, also known as Ayers Rock, is the landmark of Australia. The massive sandstone rock is located in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Uluru, one of Australia's World Heritage Sites, is sacred to its indigenous custodians. The monolith is now off-limits for climbers. Image: Corey Leopold.

Although 75% of volcanoes are found in the Ring of Fire — a tectonic belt stretching 25,000 miles from Asia up to Alaska and down South America — every continent on the planet is home to volcanoes, whether they were created through continental rifts (as in the Ring of Fire) or magma hot spots (like Hawaii’s volcanoes). However, no active volcanoes can currently be found on the mainland of the Land Down Under, although it is home to some extinct volcanic specimens. This is because the continent is missing tectonic plate boundaries. It’s at these boundaries — where two tectonic plates meet — that most volcanoes form. Instead, Australia rests squarely on the Australian Plate.

Although Australians might feel like they’re missing out, the country technically has two active volcanoes in its outlying external territories, on Heard Island and McDonald Island, located some 2,485 miles southwest of Perth. But with both islands uninhabited — and a two-week boat ride being the only way to get there — few Australians (or anyone else for that matter) will ever lay eyes on the country’s remote volcanic exceptions.