Volcano Facts

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  • Topic: Volcano, Earth, Shield volcano
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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Volcano Facts

Hot! Fire! Destruction! These are words that most

people associate with volcanoes. But some good effects can

come out of volcanoes. Volcanoes also have their own

special mythology associated with them. A lot of volcanoes

have some general characteristics in common. There are many

volcanoes around the world and some have special

characteristics. So come along and take a trip with me into

the wonderful and exciting world of volcanoes.

Over 550 volcanoes have erupted on the surface of the

Earth since human kind has been able to record history.

Their destructiveness has claimed the lives of over 200,000

people during the last 500 years with 26,000 deaths between

1980 and 1990 alone. They have also cause an innumerable

amount of property damage.

The biggest eruption of the twentieth century was the

eruption of Novarupta on the peninsula of Alaska. The

amount of lava that erupted measured to roughly 15 cubic

kilometers! All of the lava erupted equaled to the amount

of 30 times the amount of lava that came from Mount Saint

Helens and it is also the equivalent of 230 years of

eruptions at Mount Kilauea. The eruption lasted for 60

hours on June 6, 1920.

The biggest eruption, despite its size, was not the

most destructive, for the most destructive was the eruption

of Mount Saint Helens in Oregon during the week of May 18th,

1980. This eruption mainly caused just loss of property,

because many people didn't expect the volcano to erupt.

Although some people did die, this volcano was kind of weak

compared to the size of the eruption and amount of lives

lost in other eruptions like Tambora, Indonesia in 1815

where 92,000 people died.

Despite all of these bad effects, some life still

shines through these tragedies. For example the ash that a

volcano spews out covers many square miles of plants and

trees. This holds in water and waters plants. The ash also

contains many nutrients that plants use. A little more than

80 percent of the Earth's surface is volcanic in origin,

meaning that most of the Earth's surface was formed by

volcanoes. Also, magma deposits heat water underground

which produces geothermal energy.

The word volcano comes from an island off of the coast

of Sicily called Vulcano. The people of Sicily thought that

the clouds of dust and spurts of lava were made from Vulcan,

the blacksmith for the Roman Gods. They believed that

Vulcan forged thunderbolts for Zeus and weapons for Mars on

that island.

Out of the 550 of the world's active volcanoes, the

world's largest active volcano is Mauna Loa, it is one of

the Hawaiian islands. The island protrudes around 13,677

feet above sea level; while the whole island was formed by

an underwater volcano, this brings it 28,000 feet above the

ocean floor where it started. From the base underwater to

the summit above water, this volcano stands higher than

Mount Everest.

There are two main types of volcanoes out there in the

world today, the first is felsic, and the second is mafic.

Felsic volcanoes have a high silica content and a light

color to the lava. The second, mafic, has just the

opposite, a low silica content and a darker color.

Then there are underwater volcanoes and above ground

volcanoes. The underwater volcanoes are less known about

than above ground for the obvious reason that they are seen

when they are above ground. Underwater volcanoes produce

some things called black smokers, they are basically just

ash as well as black smoke that combine and heat up water to

boiling temperatures. An interesting fact about underwater

volcanoes is that some islands have been formed by lava

eruptions building up year after year. An island chain that

is very well known that has been formed by this process is

the chain of the Hawaiian Island chain. This chain also...
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