Stella has published a selection of travel articles and destination guides, accompanied by a wealth of photographs.
Mount Etna Erupting
Mountains of Fire
If you decide you want to learn about volcanoes you will find it a fascinating subject to be interested in as there is a wealth of information to discover.
Amazing new facts are being discovered all the time by people called volcanologists. They know more about volcanoes than anyone and sometimes place themselves in very great danger in their quest to learn more.
Fascinating Facts to Find
Volcanoes are mountains with a difference - they are literally mountains of fire. Did you know that Volcanoes are named after Vulcan, the Roman god of fire? In Roman times, Mount Vesuvius in Italy erupted and caused great loss of life. Volcanologists have recently discovered a great deal from this eruption even though it happened nearly two thousand years ago.
Other scientists like geologists who study rocks and archaeologists who study bones and the items people have used in the past that are found buried in the earth can help us find out about volcanoes too.
Investigation of the bones of the people who were killed and the places where they lived can provide us with explanations for the way in which these ancient eruptions occurred.
Have you ever heard of a scientist called a seismologist? These experts are very useful when it comes to volcanoes because they study earthquakes. The subject of volcanoes and earthquakes are very closely linked as earth tremors are often a sign of a coming volcanic eruption.
A volcano is basically a mountain that has a hollow chamber inside which can fill with a hot, liquid rock called magma which comes directly from deep inside the earth. If you could look at a diagram of a cross section of the earth, at the very centre is an iron core; this plays a great part in controlling the earth’s magnetic field which helps shield us from harmful radiation from the sun. Above the core is a layer called the mantle which is covered by the crust. The magma which comes out of a volcano to become lava is found between the crust and the mantle about 30 km down.
Can you guess what other substances may come from a volcano as well as lava? There are hot gases, smoke and ash and even lava ‘bombs’ which can be spewed out over a distance of some fifteen miles from the volcano itself. Even a beautiful green gemstone called peridot can sometimes be found inside these fiery volcanic rocks. Have you ever seen a pumice stone used to smooth the skin? This substance is also produced from volcanic material.
The earth’s crust is not a structure that covers our planet all in one piece. It is made up of separate plates which collide with one another and this causes earthquakes to happen and volcanoes to erupt. Many volcanoes are to be found in these places. You may have heard of ‘The ring of fire’ which is where many volcanoes are located throughout our planet where the plates are known to collide and force magma upwards.
Why don’t you see if you can find a map that pinpoints the location of these volcanoes? Volcanoes are like huge valves that reduce the build up of pressure inside the earth and serve the same purpose as earthquakes in releasing this pressure.
When a volcano erupts the magma is forced out to release pressure.
Do you have an older brother or sister who suffers from spots? Volcanoes are exactly like spots on the surface of the skin. When a spot fills up with enough pus it can eventually be burst and in much the same way a volcano will erupt if there is enough pressure inside a magma chamber to force the magma out.
If you are on an aeroplane and you look down at the rim of a volcano and deep into what is known as the caldera, it looks just like a hole that a giant spot would have left on the earth’s surface once it has burst.
Did you know that there is really no such thing as an extinct volcano? Volcanoes can be dormant for thousands of years between eruptions. They are often thought to be extinct because over the generations people have forgotten and may think the volcano has never erupted at all or that it has not erupted for so long that it will never do so again.
There are many volcanoes on our planet, as many as 1,500 and some are even under the sea. Perhaps if you are eager to learn more you can find out about which one is the nearest volcano to where you live. There are several types of volcanoes so maybe you can see which type the nearest one to you is. Nowadays volcanoes are so closely monitored by volcanologists that they need not pose much of a danger to nearby populations so do not worry if there is one near where you live.
Volcanologists have sorted volcanoes according to their shape, the way they erupt and the type of materials they are likely to emit. There are three main categories:
Stratovolcanoes are the most dangerous as these can emit deadly fumes known as pyroclastic flows. Mount Vesuvius belongs to this category.
Shield volcanoes are the largest and they consist of previously erupted lava. Mono Leua in Hawaii is the largest volcano in the world and belongs to this group.
Cinder cone volcanoes are smaller and are very common in Canada and the United States.
Perhaps you could compile a list of volcanoes and a collection of pictures and see if you can guess which category they may belong to.
Did you know that Volcanoes can be found on other planets too? Why don’t you try to find out which planet has the biggest Volcano in our solar system?
Why not ask your parents if they can take you to see a real volcano? There are many places on our planet where volcanic activity can be observed at a safe distance. One of these is the Island of Lanzarote in The Canary Islands where you can go for a camel ride around the rim of a volcano and even have a tasty meal cooked with the heat from the volcano - it is the only place on earth where you can do this and is an experience not to be missed if volcanoes are one of your favourite subjects.
© 2015 Stella Kaye