The 5 Best Volcano Apps of 2020

Learn about volcano seismology and get disaster alerts

In natural disaster news, volcano alerts are usually not as unexpected as other types of disaster alerts, but if you live in an area with an active volcano, it’s nice to know what’s going on. We researched available seismology apps and apps that provide alerts for natural disasters to find the list of the best volcano apps to bring you all the information and news you may need about volcanoes, ash clouds, and seismological events.

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Best for Volcano Seismology: Volcanoes & Earthquakes

Screenshots from the Volcanos & Earthquakes app.
What We Like
  • Great maps.

  • Mostly easy to use.

  • Fast alerts when a seismic event happens.

What We Don't Like
  • Free version is not as nuanced as the paid app.

  • Settings can be confusing until you get used to them.

If you're at all interested in volcanoes and seismic activity, Volcanoes & Earthquakes is the best app on the market. You’ll find great maps that detail seismic activity, News that helps you locate the most recent volcanic eruptions and seismic activity, and highly customizable alerts.

Initially, getting to know all the setting can be a bit confusing, but once you’ve spent a little time on the app, you should be comfortable finding where to set alerts, how to change maps views, and generally how to navigate and manage the app. One minor detail to be aware of though, the free version of this app doesn’t report all activity; only that which is above a specific threshold. So, if what you’re after is even the small movements, you might consider paying for the premium version.

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Best For Ash Alerts: Volcanoes: Maps, Alerts, & Ash

Screenshots of the Volcanoes app.
What We Like
  • Has actual volcano eruption alerts.

  • Easy to use.

  • Has more than 2,000 volcanoes listed around the world.

  • Includes links to volcanic webcams.

What We Don't Like
  • Many useful features require additional payments.

  • Ads on free version can be distracting.

  • Display is very crowded on Android.

Volcanic ash can not only be poisonous, it has the potential to change weather patterns and create weather extremes. If you live in an area near an active volcano then you may want to keep an eye on ash plumes that could affect your area.

Volcanoes: Maps, Alerts, & Ash has excellent ash cloud tracking options--if you’re willing to pay for the premium version. The free version lists the location of ash clouds (not on a map) but to get any additional information, you’ll need to pay for the capability. The same is true with several other features of this application, and the prices can range from around $2 to more than $10.

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Best for Shared Information: myVolcano

Screenshots of the myVolcano app.
What We Like
  • Crowdsourced information for users & scientific communities.

  • Includes information from the Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program.

  • Easy to navigate, with multiple options.

What We Don't Like
  • Can be slow and glitchy on Android devices.

  • Does not include notifications or alerts.

myVolcano is a UK-based crowdsourcing app that allows users to view & report seismic activity and ash clouds or occurrences. Though limited to a few locations, the app features beautiful maps that detail all the reports that have been made, which is useful information for both amateur and professional researchers Maps can also be layered to include only volcanoes or volcanoes and reported observations. Noticeably missing from this app are any kind of notifications or alerts.

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Best for Earthquakes & Seismology: LastQuake

Screenshots of the LastQuake app.
What We Like
  • No ads, even though this is a free app.

  • Customizable notifications.

  • Real-time information and earthquake data.

  • Ability to communicate with friends & family after a quake.

What We Don't Like
  • Caching issues can interfere with GPS startup.

  • Only logs & notifies for quakes that can be felt.

LastQuake, an official app of the Euro-Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC), isn't specifically a volcano app, but in regions where volcanoes can be a problem, earthquakes are a symptom, so monitoring earthquakes can be an indicator of volcanic activity.

LastQuake does a good job of detecting earthquakes that can be felt. This means it misses the smaller quakes, but there is also a user-reporting feature that allows user input that might be helpful. Other nice features of this app include customizable alerts, and it allows users in areas affected by major quakes to reach out to family to let them know they are okay.

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Best All Around Disaster App: Disaster Alert

Screenshots of the Disaster app.
What We Like
  • Can personalize alerts to your location.

  • Great, detailed maps.

  • Detailed information about a variety of disasters.

What We Don't Like
  • Log-in required to customize alerts.

  • Can be glitchy after updates.

Volcanoes are only one type of natural disaster, and it’s nice to have an app that will not only monitor volcanoes and other seismic activity, but also natural disasters like floods, droughts, wildfires, and storms. Disaster Alert is well-designed for all these types of Natural disaster.

It’s laid out nicely and easy to use. Users might find the legend particularly useful because it helps you quickly find they type of disaster that matters most to you. There are a few glitches in this app, especially after and update, and you’ll have to register before you can set up customized alerts, but if you live in a disaster prone area, that may be worth the price tag on this app, since it happens to be free.

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