Nature Notes: Information On Volcanoes

Volcanoes are constantly under observation by scientists. How to gauge what predictions really mean. Seismic readings and other factors discussed.

There are two main types of volcanoes: explosive and non-explosive. Explosive volcanoes are the volcanoes that when they erupt produce more ash than lava. Non-explosive volcanoes are the volcanoes that when they erupt lava pours out of the opening and flows down the mountainside.

When explosive volcanoes erupt they produce a large area of gas that is exploded into the atmosphere along with pieces of extremely hot rocks. The sudden cooling produces these hot rocks and shattering of molten rock as it loses its dissolved gases. Explosive volcanoes have a liquid that looks like lava, but it is the melted rock of the volcano. This liquid also flows down the side of the mountainside, but it is not as thick as molten lava. Because of its density the volcano liquid can roll down the slopes of mountainsides at speeds of over one hundred miles per hour. When an explosive volcano erupts there is not preparation time to evacuate.

Volcanologists are constantly watching these volcanoes for signs of eruption, to have time to evacuate any human life from the area.

When a non-explosive volcano erupts, it erupts in fountains from the summit or as curtains of fire from large fissures which split the volcano's sides. These vents allow the lava, which is like a lake of fire, flow down the volcanoes slopes. Non-explosive volcanoes are usually found close to oceans or seas, because when a non-explosive volcano erupts its lava usually flows into an ocean or the sea. The non-explosive volcanoes have a more rounded cone, which is the top. Most non-explosive volcanoes are a result of many years of volcanic eruptions, each time the volcano erupts and the lava cools down; it produces a larger volcano. This process is continued over the years to develop the non-explosive volcanoes we see today.

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