Volcano Facts

Volcanoes certainly make our Earth one explosive place to live.

It also shows us the incredible power of nature and what it is capable of.

Read on for some awesome facts!

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Volcano Facts for Kids

  • Lava can reach 1,250°C
  • The world’s largest active volcano is Mauna Loa in Hawaii. It is 4,169m tall!
  • The world has 1500 volcanoes with the potential to be active.
  • In the United States, there are about 169 active volcanoes.
  • The soil around volcanoes is very fertile.
  • An extinct volcano is one that hasn’t erupted in human history.
  • Lava flow destroys everything in its path

What is Hot Magma

Magma is an extremely hot liquid and semi-liquid rock that is located below the surface of the Earth. Lava is formed when magma flows onto the surface of the Earth.

Volcano Nutrient-rich Soil

Volcanic deposits contain many elements, such as magnesium and potassium. When volcanic rock and ash are broken down, these elements are released into the soil, which makes it very fertile. Ash layers can be used as natural fertilizers, which can result in larger harvests in years following an eruption.

This rich fertile land is great for growing crops! 

Mantle plumes can also form volcanoes.

Do you know what mantle plumes are? These are extremely hot rock formations deep within the Earth.

Under the rocky crust of the Earth, a mantle plume is a region where magma is hotter than the magma surrounding it.

Additionally, hot magma causes the Earth’s crust to melt and thin, resulting in widespread volcanic activity on the surface above the plume.

Famous Volcanoes

Here is a list of the 10 most famous volcanoes and the countries they are in.

Mount Vesuvius (Italy)
Krakatoa (Indonesia)
Mount St. Helens (United States)
Mount Tambora (Indonesia)
Mauna Loa (Hawaii)
Eyjafjallajokull (Iceland)
Mount Pelée (Martinique)
Thera (Greece)
Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia)
Mount Pinatubo (Philippines)

Largest Volcano in the world

Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano in Tanzania that has three volcanic cones: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. It is the highest mountain in Africa and the Eastern Hemisphere.

Types of Volcanoes

Shield Volcano

Mount Thielsen is an extinct shield volcano

Volcanoes get their shape from lava. Shield volcanoes have low viscosity lava.

Lower viscosity lava from shield volcanoes has more liquid and the lava flows more quickly than thick lava.

The lava will spread further, creating a thin layer. This continues to accumulate and form the shape of the shield volcano.

Generally, lava from shield volcanoes will explode when it hits water since the heat creates steam, volcanic ash, and molten rock. These eruptions are called hydrovolcanic.

Composite Volcano

Isla de Alegranza Canarias

Cone-shaped composite volcanoes, also called stratovolcanoes, are formed by the accumulation of layers of ash, pumice, and lava. A composite volcano usually forms peaks rather than cones due to the layering of viscous material rather than fluid lava.

These mountains are mostly symmetrical and have sharp slopes. 

It is likely that the last volcano eruption created a bowl, called a caldera, at its peak, or it collapsed under its own weight. 

Mt. St. Helens has now taken on a bowl shape instead of its former pointed shape. 

A composite volcano’s size depends upon how old it is, how many eruptions it has endured, and how much erosion it has experienced. 

Compound volcanoes can have bases up to five miles across.

Cinder Cone Volcano

Cinder Cone, Lassen Volcanic National Park, USA

A cinder cone is the simplest kind of volcano. It makes them from particles, blobs, and small pools of congealed lava. The gas-charged lava is forced into the air, where it becomes fragmented, then solidifies and falls as cinders, forming the cone.

It’s rare for them to exceed 1,000 feet. They often form on the surface of more prominent volcanoes and create a very active surface. Most eruptions last a short time.

There are nearly 100 cinder cones on Mauna Kea, one of the largest shield volcanoes on Earth.

Lava domes

Volcanoes create lava domes and plug domes by erupting viscous lava. 

The lava dome is a steep-sided mound that forms when erupting lava is too thick to flow and piles up in the volcanic vent.

What is a volcano?

A volcano is a volcanic eruption caused by the rupture of the surface of the crust. Volcanoes are located where tectonic plates are slowly diverging or converging on the planet, and many of these are underwater.

Gases and rock fire up through the vent and spill over or fill the air with lava pieces. Eruptions can cause sideways blasts, lava flows, hot ash flows, mudslides, avalanches, falling ash, and floods.

They can certainly cause a lot!

Volcano eruptions have been known to knock down entire forests. An erupting volcano can start off things like tsunamis, flash floods, earthquakes, mudflows, and rockfalls.

How are Volcanoes Formed?

Way deep down in the Earth, in the Earth’s upper mantle, you’ll find magma, debris and gases.

When magma works itself up through the Earth’s surface it erupts through a vent to create lava flows and ash deposits.

It is one of nature’s unbelievable natural events.

As time goes on, and the volcano keeps erupting, they get bigger and bigger! Best to stay away from those volcanoes then!

Different Stages of Volcanoes

Scientists have actually decided to name volcanoes based on what they do.

Here they are

  • Active volcano – This is a volcano that has recently erupted and there is a chance it might soon.
  • Dormant – A dormant volcano hasn’t erupted in a long time, but this doesn’t mean that it won’t. It could erupt in the future.
  • Extinct – These volcanoes erupted thousands of years ago and there is no way it’s going to erupt again. Next time you go on a trip, make sure you see a volcano in all its might; but choose an extinct one!

Why Do Volcanoes Erupt?

The Earth’s crust is made up of huge slabs, and these are called plates.

Think of them like a massive big jigsaw puzzle where the pieces all fit together.

Sometimes these plates move.

This causes friction.

When there is friction then this causes earthquakes and volcanic eruption of the plates.

This theory is called plate tectonics.

What is the Ring of Fire

The Pacific Ring of Fire

A region around much of the Pacific Ocean rim where many eruptions occur is known as the Ring of Fire. 

It is a horseshoe-shaped belt measuring approximately 40,000 km long and up to 500km wide.

Fun Facts about Volcanoes

  • Volcanoes can literally burn everything in their path…keep a lookout!
  • Iceland is home to approximately 130 active and inactive volcanoes.
  • So, would you set up home on the slope of a volcano? Well, we’re not sure that we would, but apparently, the soil is so good here, that people call it home and grow great crops. That’s brave.
  • 35 million, or 1 in 20 people, live within the danger zone of a volcano. Wow!
  • This is interesting. Maleo birds use the heat from the volcano to help them hatch their eggs. They bury the eggs in the soil or sand close to a volcano. When the baby chicks hatch, off they go clawing their way to the surface. Cute!
  • In 79AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted and destroyed the town of Pompeii! The ash deposits preserved the town and its remains. And guess what, you can still see it today. It would be very cool to see that.
  • The ‘Ring of Fire’ which is in the Pacific Ocean, is a 40,000km horseshoe-shaped area. It is home to 90% of the world’s volcanoes. Wow!
  • The word volcano is originally from the Roman name “Vulcan” the Roman god of fire.
  • The United States ranks number three in the world for active volcanoes behind Indonesia and Japan.
  • The soil around volcanoes is very fertile and people setup homes near them for this very reason.
  • Nevado Ojos del Salado is the world’s tallest volcano situated in the Andes at 6,893 meters above sea level.
  • The Maleo bird uses the heat from volcanoes to help them hatch their eggs
  • The majority of volcanoes on earth are in the Pacific Ocean in an area called the Ring of fire.
  • In 1985 the volcano Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia erupted and unfortunately killed 25,000 people. The majority of the people killed were caused by a mudflow.
  • Volcanoes can spew out toxic gases and ash, and as of course lava.
  • The ancient city of Pompeii was completely buried when a volcano erupted engulfing the whole city with ash and lava.
  • Magma is the liquid rock inside a volcano when it leaves the volcano it is then known as lava.

Now you can be the volcano king, knowing all there is to know to tell your teachers, your parents or your friends.

You can maybe use these facts for a test too!