Volcanoes

Volcanoes

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Volcanoes


Volcanoes are one of the most destructive yet fascinating geological land forms in
our natural environment. They consist of a fissure in the earth's crust above which a
cone of volcanic material has accumulated. The cone is formed by the deposition of
molten or solid matter that flows from the interior of the earth through an indented vent,
called a crater, which is found at the top of the cone. In this report I will discuss
different states of volcanic activity, different forms of volcanoes and their properties and
locations.

Some volcanoes are more active than others. Some are even in a state of constant
eruption an example of this is Izalco, located in El Salvador, it first erupted in 1770 and
has been in a state of eruption ever since. In a belt that circles the Pacific Ocean their are
many active and erupting volcanoes. For obvious reasons this area is referred to as the
Ring of Fire. The activity of the volcanoes varies , for example, Vesuvius will continue
in a state of moderate activity for long or short time periods and will then become
stagnant or in-active for months. If an eruption succeeds prolonged dormancy it will
usually be fairly violent, as was the eruption of Mount Saint Helens after 123 years of
stillness. The potential danger of an active volcano can be seriously threatening to
civilization for more reasons than just the initial eruption of molten rock, disasters, such
as mud flows, triggered by an eruption are also serious hazards.

Composite cones are formed from a combination of eruptions. First the volcano
will have an explosive eruption that ejects huge amounts of steam, gas, and ash. This is
followed by the ejection of lava. Most composite cones are built of layers of fragment
materials and flows of lava, all inclined outward away from the vent. Both Etna, in
Sicily, and Vesuvius, near Naples are examples of composite cones. The most common
type of volcanic cones are stratovolcanoes. A large stratovolcano will be built with many
layers of ash and lava. Mt. Saint Helens, Rainier, and Mt. Fuji are all examples of strata
volcanos.

Shield volcanoes are made of thousands of thin lava flows. Because the flow of
the lava is generally fast, it is able to travel far from the vent. The resulting volcanic land
form has a broad base and gentle slopes. Shield volcanoes are the largest volcanoes.

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Some shield volcanoes, such as Mauna Loa, are amazingly huge at sea level Mauna Loa
is 60 miles wide, is 30,000 feet from base to summit, and has a volume of roughly 40,000
cubic kilometers.

In a composite eruption the lava is highly charged with steam and other gases,
like carbon dioxide, hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide which continuously
escape which escape from the lava's surface with violent explosions and rise in a turbid
cloud. This cloud discharges showers of rain. Large and small particles of lava are shot
upward, forming a fountain like formation of drops and fragments, which are categorized
as bombs, cinders, or ash depending on their size and shape. Lava rises in the vent and
eventually spills out of the crater or squeezes, as a mass, out of a fissure on the side of the
cone. This is when the crucial or destructive point of an eruption occurs. The volcano
may return to a quiescent state after a final ejection of fragment material. For a period of
time following the eruption of lava or fragment materials, the volcano will give off acid
gases and vapor. After this, hot springs may form from the volcano. eventually volcanic
heat will disappear, and cool water will issue from the volcano and the ground in it's
vicinity.

When a volcano becomes inactive it undergoes a reduction in size through erosion
caused by flowing water, glaciers, wind, or waves. The volcano may become totally
ruined leaving only a volcanic pipe filled with lava or fragments. The volcanic pipe
extends from the earth's surface to the lava reservoir.

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