Volcanoes: Why People Live in the Shadow of Devastation
by Ruben Becerril, age 8
Did you know there are about 1900 active volcanoes on Earth and most of them are on the Ring of Fire? The Ring of Fire surrounds the Pacific Ocean and it is a 40,000 kilometer horseshoe shape.
The word volcano originated from the name of the Roman god of fire, Vulcan. Volcanoes are formed from the collision of tectonic plates on Earth’s surface. Many volcanoes can be active, dormant or extinct. They can be found on land and even in the ocean or under ice caps.
Magma is hot liquid rock inside a volcano and lava is the name given to hot liquid rock that flows out during eruptions. The biggest active volcano on Earth is Mauna Loa in Hawaii. The biggest volcano in our solar system is on Mars. It is known as Olympus Mons.
Volcanic lava can get as hot as 1,250 Celsius and burn anything in its path.
This is what happened in the year of A.D. 79 to the Italian city of Pompeii. It was destroyed and buried by a volcano called Mount Vesuvius. Today, tourists visit the town where this all happened.
A lot of people live in the danger range of a volcano--about 350 million. In fact, one in 20 people live in a region at risk for volcanic activity. “Why?” you may be asking. One reason is because the soil near a volcano is very fertile once lava and ash from eruptions break down over time. Not only do humans choose to live near volcanoes, but other species such as birds do the same. Maleo birds bury their eggs near volcanoes to keep them warm and when their chicks hatch, they claw their way up to the surface.
As you can see, volcanoes are unique and fascinating to learn about. Though volcanoes might be scary and dangerous, volcanoes are important for humans and animals.
[Source: National Geographics Kids]