Volcanoes: Why People Live in the Shadow of Devastation

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 ]

Such an interesting read! Keep up the great work, Ruben! – Kadjata , Madison East High School (2020-09-10 06:33)
Wow! I am so proud of your writing, Ruben! Way to go! I had no idea those birds lay their eggs in volcanic ash! How interesting! – Katie McNeely , Lake Mills Elementary (2020-09-11 10:08)
This is beautifully written, Ruben! I am so glad you have an interest in writing. Keep it up! – Mrs. Nichols , Lake Mills Elementary School (2020-09-12 09:46)

Loved your story. Fascinating. Imagine 350 million people in the shadows of volcanos.

Your story made me think of one of my own that I wanted to share with you.

In 2007, because I am an anti-landfill activist, the groups fighting landfills in the Phillippine Islands, which is also on the ring of fire, along with in the zone of cyclones, asked me to come and speak to them.

While I was there, I asked my hosts if they would take me to the Pyatas landfill, which is near the second biggest city after Manila, called Quezon City. About 7 years earlier, in 2000, the landfill, which is huge -- the size of a small mountain, but with steep unvegetated sides -- was hit by an enormous cyclone (which is the same as what we call hurricanes in the U.S.) with such force that the mountain collapsed.

The horrific tragedy was that a whole town had grown up around the foot of the garbage mountain to pick out of the garbage things that had value like recyclable bottles and cans and discarded durable items.

680 people were killed that year under 85 feet of garbage.

Even worse, when we went to visit the site in 2007, the town had been rebuilt exactly where it had been, in line to be wiped out again the next time Pyatas is hit by another cyclone.

I looked into their eyes, but did not know what to say.

People in so many other parts of the world live in tragic conditions beyond our imagination, and it is so hard to know what to do about it. – Peter Anderson , Madison (2020-09-23 13:56)

good job Ruben, i really liked the article!! – Sol Saray , glendale elementary (2020-09-27 15:38)
good job Ruben, i really liked the article!! – Sol Saray , glendale elementary (2020-09-27 15:54)
Keep up the great work! I can't wait to read your next article! – Cris , UW-MadIson (2020-11-04 07:33)
Great article, Ruben! Wouldn't it be exciting to go to Pompeii some day? Peter, I enjoyed reading about your powerful experience, too. Awesome picture, Rueben! Keep writing, Nan – Nan Bogue , MADISON (2020-11-18 19:50)
Rubin, you shared so many interesting facts. Thank you for reminding me of the awesome power of the natural world. Your article left me feeling gratitude for the relative geographical safety of Wisconsin! – Jenn B , Verona (2020-11-19 19:16)