National Geographic : 2010 Sep
NORTH AMERICA SOUTH AMERICA AUSTRALIA ASIA AFRICA EUROPE Yellowstone, United States 50:1 Unzen, Japan 4:1 Sakurajima, Japan 18:1 Avachinsky, Russia 22:1 Galeras, Colombia 22:1 Vesuvius, Italy 12:1 Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland 10:1 Etna, Italy 28:1 Chaitén, Chile 28:1 Mauna Loa, United States 10:1 Ulawun, Papua New Guinea 12:1 Merapi, Indonesia 14:1 Colima, Mexico 14:1 Rainier, United States 16:1 Taal, Philippines 16:1 Teide, Canary Islands, Spain 16:1 Nyiragongo, Dem. Rep. of the Congo 8:1 Popocatépetl, Mexico 18:1 Santorini, Greece 14:1 Stromboli, Italy 20:1 Katla, Iceland 7:4 Santiaguito, Guatemala 33:1 NGM MAPS. PHOTO: ODD STEFAN THORISSON, NORDICPHOTOS/CORBIS GEOGRAPHY It's an investment even more volatile than stocks: the next big volcanic eruption. Well before Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull blew this year, Ireland's largest bookie, Paddy Power, was letting punters bet on the peak they deemed most likely to explode. The seven-to-four favorite? Another Icelandic peak, Katla. Eyjafjallajökull now sits in fourth place, along with Hawaii's Mauna Loa (ten to one). Unlikely to go off, but with a big purse if it does: Yellowstone (50 to one). "Volcanoes with regular lava flows or burps are hot favorites," says Paddy Power spokesman Darren Haines. "Dormant volca- noes can see odds as low as 500 to one. " Probabili- ties are calculated using the Volcanic Explosivity Index---the scale, ranging from zero (nonexplosive) to eight (megacolossal), that scientists use to rank eruption severity. The first volcano to hit level three, with plumes at least two miles high, will prompt payouts. Paddy Power's clients came up with the novel market after the 2009 eruption of the Philippines' Mount Mayon. If natural phenomena aren't your thing, this year's bets have also included the next Oscar winners, pope, and James Bond actor---and which country will make first contact with space aliens. (Ireland and the United States were top picks.) On a more somber note, one could have wagered on how many wild polar bears will exist as of the end of 2011 and how many species will be critically endangered. Here's hoping the odds land in the animals' favor. ---Jennifer S. Holland An Explosive Wager Never mind the World Cup or Super Bowl. With a bevy of volcanoes in various states of agitation, a Dublin bookie offers the chance to cash in on the ones that blow. Eyjafjallajökull volcano 10:1 More likely to erupt Less likely to erupt Betting odds of eruption* 20:1 30:1 *A 10:1 bet pays €10 for every €1 wagered. Odds are as of June 2010.