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25 Interesting Facts about Volcanoes

25 Interesting Facts about Volcanoes

Want to know more about Volcanoes? Here are 25 Interesting facts about Volcanoes that you probably didn’t know before reading this!

To make this even more fun, I would like you to challenge yourself or others to see who knows more about volcanoes. There are many fascinating volcano facts that are both terrifying and interesting. 

What is a volcano?

A volcano is basically a mountain or hill with a crater or vent which has an opening to the Earth’s surface, which allows magma (lava) and gases to erupt and escape from the crust of Earth. They can be found on land as well as on the bottom of the ocean. 

There are various types of Volcanoes

The most common types are Shield volcanoes, which are also the largest volcanoes on Earth. Dome and Composite are also commonly found, whereas the other volcano types are less frequent. Composite is also known as Stratovolcano. 

Volcano types

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They can be found on land and in water

While most of us only see volcanoes on land, there are actually a large number of submarine volcanoes as well. These are underwater vents or fissures where magma can erupt.

The submarine volcanoes are often located near tectonic plates and account for about 75% of the magma escaping Earth’s crust. 

submarine volcano facts

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A volcano can be dormant, active or extinct

In addition to various types, they are also classified by their activity and levels of lava. A dormant volcano is “sleeping” and is currently inactive, which could lead to an eruption later on.

An active volcano gets eruptions frequently or a frequent seismic activity. An extinct volcano is likely not to erupt ever again, but there is, of course, no guarantee for this. However, volcanoes that are classified as extinct have been dormant for at least 10,000 years. 

Mauna Loa is the biggest active volcano

The biggest active volcano can be found on the Big Island in Hawaii, and it’s called Mauna Loa, which is located next to the tallest mountain in the world.

Mauna Loa is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, although not as frequent as the neighboring volcano Kilauea. The eruptions of Mauna Loa are usually large in scale which produces massive rivers of lava. 

The largest volcano on Earth is Tamu Massif, which is an extinct submarine shield volcano. 

Mauna Loa

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Mount Taal is the smallest volcano

On the other side of the scale is Mount Taal, which is considered as the smallest volcano in the world. It’s located in the Philippines on the island of Luzon. 

Many cities have been buried by volcanic eruptions

Throughout history several cities have faced threats from volcanic eruptions, many of them have had a deadly outcome and buried entire cities.

One such event is the Mount Vesuvius’ eruption in Italy where the ancient Roman city Pompeii was buried in ashes, and some nearby cities completely run over by lava. 

Pompeii buried by volcanic eruption

There is an area known as the Ring of Fire

The Ring of Fire is an extremely active volcanic region in the Pacific Ocean. This horseshoe-shaped area covers 40,000 km and it is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

All but three of the largest volcanic eruptions in the last 11,700 years have occurred in the Ring of Fire, and the area has a total of 452 volcanoes. 

The caldera is the circular depression at the volcano’s summit

When talking about volcanoes, the word caldera often comes up. A caldera is basically the circular depression at the summit where the volcano implodes on itself when erupting. 

volcanic caldera

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Common volcanic gases

Sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, water vapor, carbon dioxide, hydrogen fluoride, and hydrogen sulfide are some of the most common volcanic gases.

There is an Indonesian volcano spewing blue colored flames

In Indonesia, there is an active volcano complex called Kawah Ijen, which consists of composite volcanoes. What makes this even more fascinating is the fact that it spews out blue lava. The reason for this is because of the very high levels of sulfur. 

Blue flames

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There are supervolcanoes that could erupt

Supervolcanoes are one of the biggest threats to mankind and an eruption could potentially lead to mass extinction on Earth. There are about 20 supervolcanoes on Earth that we know about, and while eruptions don’t happen very often, the average is around every 100,000 years.

Yellowstone in the USA is one of the most famous supervolcanoes, and also one of the most powerful. Some other supervolcanoes can be found in Lake Toba, Wah Wah Springs, and the Taupo volcanic zone.

Volcanic lightning

When a volcanic eruption occurs, an electrical discharge can give rise to volcanic lightning, which happens when individual ash particles rub together and build up enough static electricity.

Large eruptions can see thousands of volcanic lightning strikes, which makes this one of the many fascinating facts about volcanoes!

Volcanic lightning

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5 x Mindblowing facts about Volcanoes

  • Eruptions can send ash as high as 30 kilometers (17 miles) up in the air
  • More than 1500 volcanic eruptions have occurred in the last 10,000 years
  • Large volcanic eruptions can reflect the sun’s radiation and lower the Earth’s temperature by several degrees
  • The Lava can reach temperatures up to 700 to 1,200 °C (1292 to 2192 °F)
  • There are 10 to 20 volcanic eruptions every day somewhere on Earth
Lava facts

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5 x Volcano facts for kids

  • The word volcano originally comes from the name Vulcan, who is the Roman god of fire
  • Lava is the name for magma escaping the Earth’s surface
  • The study of volcanoes is called volcanology
  • Volcanoes are openings in the Earth’s surface
  • There are volcanoes on other planets as well, such as Olympus Mons on Mars, which is one of the largest volcanoes in our solar system
Volcano facts for kids

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More information about Volcanoes

If you’re looking for facts about volcanoes, these frequently asked questions and answers might be interesting as well. 

Why are volcanoes important?

Volcanoes are an important element in the shaping of our planet, and many islands are created from volcanic activity, such as the island of Hawaii. Eruptions also give rise to fertile soil and provide a lot of important nutrients.

There are also volcanic minerals and stones that the eruptions make available. One example of such stones is pumice volcanic ash and perlite which are used in commercial products, such as soaps and household cleaners. 

Volcanic island

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How long do volcanoes live?

A Volcano’s lifespan can vary from a few months to several million years. For a volcano to be classified as extinct it has to be dormant for more than 10,000 years, without being likely to erupt ever again. 

How old is the first volcano?

Geologists generally put Etna as the oldest active volcano, and it dates back 350,000 years. The first volcano probably dates back some billion years in time until the dawn of Earth. 

Which country has the most volcanoes?

  • United States – 173
  • Russia – 166
  • Indonesia – 139
  • Iceland – 130
  • Japan – 112
  • Chile – 104
  • Ethiopia – 57
  • Papua New Guinea – 53
Yellowstone National Park

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What are 5 facts about volcanoes?

  • A dormant volcano can suddenly increase its activity and get an eruption
  • Volcanoes are usually located where tectonic plates meet
  • Volcanic eruptions can last for less than a day to thousands of years
  • A volcano is an opening in the surface of Earth where gas, magma, and ash can escape
  • There are several types of volcanoes, but Shield, Dome, and Composite/Stratovolcanoes are the most commonly found types
5 facts about volcanoes

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How many of these Volcano facts did you know already? Leave a comment below!