"Magnitude 4 or greater eruptions are typically responsible for the most loss of life," geologist Sian Crosweller of the University Bristol, who led the database team, said in a statement. "The database's restriction to eruptions of this size puts the emphasis on events whose low frequency and large hazard footprint mean preparation and response are often poor."
The open access database, called Large Magnitude Explosive Eruptions (LaMEVE), will provide crucial information to researchers, civil authorities and the general public, the statement said.
There are nearly 3,000 volcanoes and more than 1,800 eruptions in the database, spanning 1.8 million years. The team plans to extend the records back to the beginning of the Quaternary period, 2.58 million years ago.
The Smithsonian Institution also maintains an exhaustive database of the world's volcanoes, called the Global Volcanism Program, but only for those active in the past 10,000 years.
The LaMEVE database is part of a major international effort called the Global Volcano Model, aimed at better understanding volcanic hazards and risk and reducing the loss of life and damage from future eruptions.