Volcanoes On the Move

volcanoesVolcanoes account for 80% of the earth’s surface. With its magnitude of force and oozing lava, the presence of increasing activity is being observed all over the world including underwater. The devastating destruction impacts land mass, climate, and temperature. The cost of human life could be horrific as rock is vaporized spontaneously and spreads rock dust for great distances.

Volcanoes can erupt without a sound Others may hiss or erupt with a loud explosion. People, who live hundreds of miles away, may be effected with damage such as broken glass or hearing loss. The greatest threat to humanity is ash and gases. The ash, alone, could remain in the atmosphere for up to a decade.When a deadly volcano erupted in Indonesia, it caused tens of thousands of people to starve. Additionally, a tsunami occurred.

There are approximately 1,500 volcanoes currently active , but this number does not include those that have not been identified under the oceans. Further, it is estimated that somewhere in the world there are 10 to 20 erupting everyday. Particles from ash, dust, and gas can cause the earth to become considerably cooler.

In 1783, the volcano, Laki, continued to erupt for eight years, The devastation was enormous. Crops were destroyed, 9,000 people died, acid rain saturated the European forests, and children had skin abrasions.

Mount Pinatubo, which erupted min 1991, was one of the greatest volcanoes documented in the 20th century. The action from this powerful force caused  the temperature to drop .7 degree Fahrenheit for two years. In 2006, the studies conducted in Papa, New, Guinea over the past 15 years, revealed some valuable information about temperature. The study may be the provide further documentation of what occurs when  temperatures decrease.

There are a number of hot spots to learn about volcanic activity. Hot spots in the United States include Hawaii, Alaska, California, Oregon, and Washington state. Currently, Kilauea is erupting, however, the flow of lava is not moving down slop. NASA is developing a volcano-exploring robot to do an in-depth study of Kilauea.

It has been presumed that volcanoes on the seafloor are of no consequence. Recently, Tolsky, a scientist who studied the effects of underwater volcanoes off the coast of New Mexico, noted that volcanic action was influenced by the earth’s movement around the sun and sea levels. The data regarding eruption has indicated that during cold weather and low sea levels lava begins to move.

Last week, one of the four craters of Piton de la Fournaise, located in the Indian ocean, erupted with brilliant fireworks, but it usually does not last too long.  This volcano erupts annually but usually does not cause damage. Also, the Volcan de Fuego in Guatemala city, which s frequently active, displayed a shower of rocks and debris 18,000 above sea level.

A notable location, which is optimal for studying volcanoes, is Iceland. It has more that 300 different glaciers, which are rapidly melting. This is valuable information to scientists as the glacier melt contributes to the rising sea levels and the collection of data is useful for further studie

By Marie A. Wakefield

Scientific American 




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