But along the same line the number of extinct volcanoes is far greater, and there are not wanting proofs that the volcanoes which are still active are approaching the condition of extinction.
If the great medial chain of the Atlantic presents us with an example of a chain of volcanic mountains verging on extinction, we have in the line of islands separating the Pacific and Indian Oceans an example of a similar range of volcanic vents which are in a condition of the greatest activity. In the peninsula of Kamchatka there are twelve active volcanoes, in the Aleutian Islands thirty-one, and in the peninsula of Alaska three. The chain of the Kuriles contains at least ten active volcanoes; the Japanese Islands and the islands to the south of Japan twenty-five. The great group of islands lying to the south-east of the Asiatic continent is at the present time the grandest focus of volcanic activity upon the globe. No less than fifty active volcanoes occur here.
Farther south, the same chain is probably continued by the four active volcanoes of New Guinea, one or more submarine volcanoes, and several vents in New Britain, the Solomon Isles, and the New Hebrides, the three active volcanoes of New Zealand, and possibly by Mount Erebus and Mount Terror in the Antarctic region. Altogether, no less than 150 active volcanoes exist in the chain of islands which stretch from Behring’s Straits down to the Antarctic circle; and if we include the volcanoes on Indian and Pacific Islands which appear to be situated on lines branching from this particular band, we shall not be wrong in the assertion that this great system of volcanic mountains includes at least one half of the habitually active vents of the globe. In addition to the active vents, there are here several hundred very perfect volcanic cones, many of which appear to have recently become extinct, though some of them may be merely dormant, biding their time.
A third series of volcanoes starts from the neighborhood of Behring’s Straits, and stretches along the whole western coast of the American continent. This is much less continuous, but nevertheless very important, and contains, with its branches, nearly a hundred active volcanoes. On the north this great band is almost united with the one we have already described by the chain of the Aleutian and Alaska volcanoes. In British Columbia about the parallel of 60 degrees N. there exist a number of volcanic mountains, one of which, Mount St. Elias, is believed to be 18,000 feet in height. Farther south, in the territory of the United States, a number of grand volcanic mountains exist, some of which are probably still active, for geysers and other manifestations of volcanic activity abound. From the southern extremity of the peninsula of California an almost continuous chain of volcanoes stretches through Mexico and Guatemala, and from this part of the volcanic band a branch is given off which passes through the West Indies, and contains the volcanoes which have so recently given evidence of their vital activity.