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Introduction A volcano is a vent through which molten rock escapes to the earth's surface.

Un like other mountains, which are pushed up from below, volcanoes are built by sur face accumulation of their eruptive products - layers of lava, ashflows, and ash . When pressure from gases within the molten rock becomes too great, an eruption occurs. Volcanic hazards include gases, lava and pyroclastic flows, landslides, earthquakes, and explosive eruptions. Let's first take a look at the earth. The earth is made up of 4 main layers-the inner core, the outer core, the mantle and the crust. The crust is where we live , on the surface of the earth. Below the crust lies the mantle, which is made up of solids, liquids and gases. The lithosphere is made up of the crust and the upper most layer of the mantle, and is divided up into 16 major plates. As the plates of the lithosphere shift, they disrupt portions and pockets of the mantle below it. This disruption causes steam and gasses within the mantle to into liquid magna-these pockets of liquid magma are called "hot spots". The liquid magma then makes its way up through th e lithosphere and erupts from onto the earth as lava. The places where they erup t are called volcanoes. Where these plates meet are where most of the earth's volcanoes are located. Pla tes can shift towards each other, away from each other, or they can shift side b y side. The way in which these plates move in relation to each other cause the d ifferent types of physical conditions that create volcanoes and earthquakes. Parts of a Volcano This cross-section shows the parts of a volcano. A conduit feeds magma to the su rface. Near the surface, the gas expands and fragments the lava into ash. Some m agma passes through dikes to feed vents. Some magma intrudes parallel to layers to make sills. Image source: Main Vent The Main vent is the path taken by the liquid rock from the Magma Chamber to the surface. It is like a pipe up which the lava can flow. Sometimes the main vent has branches which, if they reach the surface may form Secondary Cones or Fumero les. When a volcano erupts, lava, gasses and fragments of rock travel right up the ma in vent and are thrown out through the crater. When the eruption finishes the la va may drop back down the pipe or form a lava lake in the crater. Lava Flow When magma reaches the surface it is called lava. ( pronounced 'larver'). If the level of lava in the crater overflows the rim, it will begin to flow down the s ides of the volcano. Different types of lava are more runny than others and the most runny types can flow down the slopes at over 30 miles per hour. Although the rock is liquid, is is very dense. If you stood on it, you wouldn't sink, but you would burn. The rock surface may seem to have cooled and set, but below the very thin crust the lava can remain liquid for a long time, at tempera tures of 500 ° or more. Ash and Lava Strata The volcano in the diagram is made of layers, coloured light and dark grey. Thes e are the layers of ash and lava which have been thrown out of the volcano durin g its life. Ash consists of small fragments of rock, some as fine as tiny dust p articles, other chunks being bigger than your fist. The layers of lava are old l

Material falls bac k down to earth around the vent and slowly piles up forming a rim around it. gas and ash are blasted upwards from the main vent. Although diagrams often show the Magma Chamber as having well defined sides. It is formed as lava. It will form a pyramid. The inside of the crater is kept clear by the force of upward moving material const antly removing any debris which falls there. depositing the dis solved minerals around the vent.ava flows which cooled and set as they flowed down the volcano. they are not usually the cause of most casualties. Magma Chamber Deep below the Earth's surface. ( 90% of a ll volcanic gas is water and carbon dioxide ) but more often is water vapour con taining dissolved minerals such as sulphur. The volcanic ash is usually thrown out of the volcano before the lava. Types of Volcanoes Volcanologists have classified volcanoes into groups based on the shape of the v olcano. In certain parts of the world there are 'hot spots'. In some parts of the world local industries hav e built up collecting the sulphur deposited around fumerole vents. between 100 and 200km down. the rocks are semi l iquid. thrown high into the air by the force of the eruption. the steepness of which is determined by t he size and shape of the individual salt grains. Along with the smaller particles there are often larger chunks of liquid rock. ash and rock fragments. It is much more likely that the rocks slowly cool as distance from the hot spot increases. If these cracks form a path from the main vent to the surface. tonnes of material being thrown into the atmos phere. These areas are believed to be the sources of the m agma which rises to the surface via volcanoes. magma is able to move up the new pipe and re ach the surface. The ash is soft and is easily w orn away by wind and rain. It may be just steam. the materials they are built of. As it erupts the ash and lava is sprayed into the air like a fo untain. Splashes of lava mix with the ash to form a new cone. Ash and Gas Clouds Gas escapes all the time from active volcanoes. so the rock turns from liquid. The magma below the surface heats water to the point where it turns to steam and is able to dissolve minerals from the surrounding rock. Secondary Cone When the Main Vent develops branches. forming rod shaped chunks which are called 'volcanic bombs'. Given time. Fumerole A fumerole is a crack in the surface through which steam and gas can escape. The layers of lava which flow over the ash protect it from erosion and thus allow the volcano to keep growing upwards. the volcano may begin to grow secondary co nes. forming a mixture of gas. to thick stic ky stuff and finally becomes solid. areas where the rock s are hotter than elsewhere. These pieces of rock cool as they spin through th e air. It cools and expands. During an eruption the volume of gas released increases considerably. It settles to the ground and forms a steep sided pile. to semi-molten. it is very unlikely that they are li ke that. You can see the same effect by pouring salt onto a flat surface. Crater A volcanic crater is a funnel shaped hollow at the top of the vent. and the way the volcano erupts. Dangerous th ough the bombs are. As the gas reaches the sur face it is both hot and under pressure. The rock and ash layers which make up the volcano are often cracked and wea kened by the explosions that occur during eruptions. . a seco ndary cone may divert so much of the magma that it becomes the main vent and the original cone becomes less important. The hot a sh and poisonous gasses kill many more people.

the surface remains mostly flat. these volcanoes consist almost entirely of lo ose. or exhibiting unrest through . dorman or extinct? There are over 1. Shield volcanoes have low slopes and consist almost entirely of frozen lavas. A volcano is generally c onsidered active if it has erupted in historic time. do rmant. or extinct is a subjective and inexact exercise. they have moderately steep sides and sometimes have small craters in their summits.or gravel-like volcanic rock called cinders or volc anic ash. to only a few hundred years in other regions of the w orld. When is a volcano considers active. Classifying a volcano as active. These can only be found by carefu lly locating the big fractures or "faults" in the ground that mark the edges of the caldera. rising over 30. there is often nothing "volcano-like" to see--only a flat plain. Images reproduced from: Wheeling Jesuit University/Center for Educational Techno logies Caldera Calderas. usually only a bout a mile across and up to about a thousand feet high. there is no central crater at all. They are small volcanoes. They have very steep si des and usually have a small crater on top. Mauna Loa. i s rather ambiguous. Volcanologists call these "s trato-" or composite volcanoes because they consist of layers of solid lava flow s mixed with layers of sand. however. giant cracks open in t he ground and expel vast quantities of lava that spread far and wide to form hug e pools that can cover almost everything around.000 volcanoes in our world. "Giant" calderas are the largest of these: huge craters up to many tens of miles across. Giant Calderas form by collapse (see animation) in giganti c eruptions that spew volcanic rocks out hundreds or even a thousand miles in al l directions. a shield volcano on the "big" island of Hawaii. like the Pacific Northwest of the United States. is the largest single mountain in the world. As illustrated in the figure above. They almost always have lar ge craters at their summits. Shield Volcanoes This type of volcano can be hundreds of miles across and many tens of thousands of feet high. Sometimes the calderas are so filled with lava and volcanic ash th at there is no recognizable depression at all. are found on the summits of man y volcanoes. Cinder Cones As you might expect from the name.The groups are: Composite Volcanoes (also called strato volcanoes) Shield Volcanoes (also called shields) Cinder Cones Fissure Caldera Composite Volcanoes These volcanoes are typically tens of miles across and ten thousand or more feet in height. This definition. The individual islands of the state of Hawaii are simply large shi eld volcanoes. When these pools of lava cool a nd solidify. Instead. Scientists generally cons ider a volcano active if it is currently erupting. which are simply circular depressions. grainy cinders and almost no lava.000 feet above the ocean f loor and reaching almost 100 miles across at its base. because recorded history varies from thousands of years in E urope and the Middle East. Since the source cracks are usuall y buried. Fissure In this type.

In contrast. during 15 June 1991 at Pinatubo in the Phili ppines—can send ash and volcanic gas tens of miles into the air. Steaming ash forms a whitish cloud near the upper level of the cone. Such eruptive activity can cause great destruction and loss of life if it occurs in populated areas. fall back. such as occurred on the Mayon Volc ano in the Philippines in 1968. the eruptive activity of Parícutin Volcano in 1947 demonstrated a “Vulc anian”-type eruption. huge clots of molten lava burst from the summit crater to form lu minous arcs through the sky. as typified by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy in A. ash. as demonstrated by the devastation of St. or feed radiating flows. Fast-moving deadly p yroclastic flows (“nuées ardentes”) are also commonly associated with plinian eruption s. In a ddition. Some mild eruptions merely discharge steam and other gases. Hawaii. recognizes 539 volcanoes with historic eruptions. These latter vo lcanoes are probably best considered "dormat. molten. dust. a large quantity of gas." since they have the potential to erupt again.” “Hawaiian. Such lava may collect in old pit craters to form lava lakes. The most powerful eruptions are called “Plinian” and involve the explosive ejection of relatively viscous lava.D. and incandes cent lava fragments are blown out of a central crater. or form cones. uplift. more recently.” “Vulcanian. there are 529 volcanoes that have not erupted in historic times. such as during the eruption of Mauna Loa Volcano in Hawaii in 1950. but wh ich exhibit clear evidence of eruption in the past 10. In a “Strombolian”-type eruption observed during the 1965 activity of Irazu Volcano in Costa Rica. a fountain of fiery lava spurts to a height of several hundred feet or more. incandescent la va spurts from a fissure on the volcano's rift zone and feeds lava streams that flow downslope. wherea s other eruptions extrude quantities of lava. Collecting on the flanks of the cone. and/or new gas emissions. “Hawaiian” eruptions may occur along fissures or fractures that serve as linear vent s. Lesser Antilles. and form tongu e-like.” “Vesuvian. In a “Peléan” or “Nuée Ardente” (glowing cloud) eruption. Some volcanoes may exhibit one characteristic type of eruption during an interval of activity—others may dis play an entire sequence of types. The Smithsonian Institution's cat alog of active volcanoes. In fissure-type eruptions.000 years. glowing avalanches that move downslope at velocities as great as 100 mil es per hour. or they m ay occur at a central vent such as during the 1959 eruption in Kilauea Iki Crate r of Kilauea Volcano. a volcano commonly displays a distinctive pattern of behavior. Large plinian eruptions—such as during 18 May 1980 at Mount St. in which a dense cloud of ash-laden gas explodes from the cr ater and rises high above the peak. In central-vent eruptions. Helens or. Types of Volcanic Eruptions During an episode of activity.” and others.” “Pelean. In a “Vesuvian” eruption. . great quantities of ash-laden gas are violently discharged to form caul iflower-shaped cloud high above the volcano.earthquakes. The most spectacular eruptions con sist of violent explosions that blast great clouds of gas-laden debris into the atmosphere. lava clots co mbined to stream down the slopes in fiery rivulets. Pier re during the 1902 eruption of Mont Pelée on Martinique. The resulting ash fallout can affect large areas hundreds of miles downwind. The type of volcanic eruption is often labeled with the name of a well-known vol cano where characteristic behavior is similar—hence the use of such terms as “Stromb olian. 79.

limes. arrived on the island about 200 0 years ago. became known as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean. mountainous island t hat it is today. Although. but it wasn 't until recently that scientists connected the earthquake rumblings with possib le volcanic eruptions. th is "new" island was colonized by plants. Soufriere Hills slept peacefully beneath nature's bounty. finding ample food and shelter. no new magma is eru pted. Since the arriva l of Europeans. Philippines. are more common in relatively non-explosive basaltic eruptions associated with s heild volcanoes. For centuries. Let's flash forward. Montserrat Montserrat is a typical volcanic island. At different times. and indig enous animals roamed freely. and gas content of the erupting magma. then. The Amerinds. On the other hand. Alt hough only some 11 miles long. ten subm arine eruptions (all from a rising underwater volcano north of Grenada known as Kick'em Jenny). internationally known rock stars traveled there to record th eir music. Occasional small earthquakes would startle the islanders. such as the 1965 eruption of Taal Volcano. Montserrat's earliest inhabitants.“Phreatic” (or “steam-blast”) eruptions are driven by explosive expanding steam resultin g from cold ground or surface water coming into contact with hot rock or magma. to the early 1600s and see the island's volcano pu t on a display for Montserrat's new European settlers. There are no records of volcanic activity until the Europeans arriv e. disturbed by volcanic eruptions from time to time. Montserrat is truly and entirely a volcanic island. Montserrat. and one of the younge st. Soufriere Hills is the youngest. these islands have produced some 26 volcanic eruptions. (Imag e courtesy of USGS) Volcanoes in the Caribbean The Caribbean region has its own tectonic plate. lahars and voluminous tephra deposits are more common in explosive andesiticto-rhyolitic eruptions associated with stratovolcanoes. located about one-third of the way down the Lesser Antillean chain. For all of these re asons. and the 1975-76 activ ity at La Soufrière. and it has three volcanic formations. its rivers descended to the sea. viscosity. It began as a volcano on the ocean floo r and grew over the last. Tho ugh one of the smallest plates on the Earth's outer shell. and animals typical of all the C aribbean islands. as are their harmful effects on both local and global scales. and 11 volcanic seismic crises (clusters of earthquakes around a volcano). Silver Hill. More recently. the Caribbean plate has always been active. few million years into the small. The distinguishing feature of phreatic explosions is that they only blast out fr agments of preexisting solid rock from the volcanic conduit. and sea-island cotton for their livelih ood. Phreatic activity is generally weak. Lava flows. and Soufr iere Hills. and fissures. In the Lesser Antilles. scoria cones. the North American plate is pushed under the Caribbean p late. Deep-gr een rainforest grew along its slopes. it rapidly ascends to 3. This st ring of islands has been referred to as the Volcanic Caribbees. The westernmost islands form an arc that reaches from just south of the An egada Passage (near the British Virgin Islands) almost to South America. The eruptive products are highly variaible and largely dependent on the composit ion. for example. . but can be quite violent in some case s. Guadeloupe (Lesser Antilles). They learned first-hand w hy the soil was so rich. birds. pyroclastic flow s. Gaseous emissions are al so examined.000 feet at its highest p oint. called the Caribbean plate. is land farmers relied on sugarcane. a mere fifty million years old. Centre Hills.