When we think of the raw, untamed power of the Earth, what better way to portray this than an erupting volcano? Whether symbolized by the fearsome Te Ka from Disney's Moana, or the volcanic explosions of Anger in Pixar's Inside Out, the volcano means rage and destruction for many of us. But volcanoes also provide a vital life force to the Earth as well. Let's learn five cool facts about volcanoes together!
- While we tend to associate volcanos with hot, tropical climates like Hawaii, volcanos are present on every continent on Earth, even Antarctica. In fact, the largest concentration of volcanos in the world is found on the frozen continent, 138 in total, all lying dormant under the ice. Will they ever erupt again? Scientists are monitoring the situation every day!
- While Maui might like us to think that he pulled islands out of the sea with his magical fish hook, the truth is that many, many islands around the globe were actually made from underwater volcanoes erupting over time. Additionally, the shifting of tectonic plates can create a column of lava shooting into the water and hardening into a volcanic island. But it's okay, you can still say you're welcome!
- We tend to think of volcanic eruptions as giant sprays of lava, but many volcanos around the world are much calmer with a lower output. In fact, some volcanoes have been steadily streaming for decades. What's the longest recorded lava flow That's still going today? That would be Mount Yasur in Vanuatu in the South Pacific. This volcano has been erupting several times an hour for 111 years! that's older than Mickey Mouse, Band-Aid brand bandages, and Oreo cookies!
- Due to how lush and habitable volcanoes can make an area, it isn't surprising that human populations tend to cluster around active and dormant volcanoes alike. Cities like Legazpi City in the Philippines, Shimabara in Japan, Mount Etna in Sicily, and Auckland in New Zealand are all "hot" tourist destinations in part due to their nearby active volcanoes. Don’t worry though, humans have been coexisting with volcanoes for thousands of years, and thanks to modern science, there are many, many plans in place to keep everyone safe!
- You might think Earth is the only place in our solar system you would find an active volcano, but it turns out that we aren't alone. Some of the moons of Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune all have active volcanoes, viewable by our space probes as they float on by. Could a future space colony set themselves up around an active volcano, just like we have on Earth? Time will tell!
Volcanoes are beautiful, life-giving, natural wonders. Volcanology, or the study of volcanos, is an important part of science, not only to learn how our planet works, but also to keep people safe from unexpected eruptions. Would you like to be a volcano scientist? You'd always have a place to cook up s'mores!