Volcanoes and Volcanology

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Volcanoes can be one of the most destructive forces on Earth. It is estimated that some
500 million people live near active volcanoes (Lutgens and Tarbuck, 2013). Of the Earth's known volcanoes, 70 can be expected to erupt each year with at least one large eruption each decade (Lutgens & Tarbuck, 2013). As populations continue to increase and more people are attracted to the beauty surrounding these areas, the immediate threat to humans from these sometimes sleeping giants grows. Due to this, the study of volcanoes and the service that volcanologists provide to the public by way of information and predictions on activity is immeasurable. Named for the Roman god Vulcan, volcanoes have both intrigued and frightened mankind for centuries. Human like footprints dating back 300,000 years have been found in the solidified lava of Roccamonfina volcano in Italy (Onion, 2013). These footprints, called the
"Devil's Trail" appear to indicate that these ancestors were escaping an eruption. In Turkey, a
9,000 year old painting depicting a volcanic eruption was discovered in 1964 during an excavation of Catalhyuk (Oskin, B., 2012). Perhaps one of the most famous written accounts of a volcanic eruption was written in 79 A.D. when Pliny the Younger wrote of the eruption of
Mount Vesuvius in Italy. His uncle, Pliny the Elder, a naturalist, was killed after the eruption while trying to help the residents of Pompeii. Today the type of eruption that Mount Vesuvius encountered all those centuries ago is referred to as "Plinian" and was used to describe both the
1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens and the 1991 eruption Mt. Pinatubo. (Ball, J. n.d.).
Volcanology or Vulcanology, as it is sometimes called, is the study of vo...

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