Thursday, January 6, 2011


A volcano is an opening, or rupture, in a planet's surface or crust, which allows hot magma, volcanic ash and gases to escape from below the surface.
Volcanoes are generally found where tectonic plates are diverging or converging. A mid-oceanic ridge, for example the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, has examples of volcanoes caused by divergent tectonic plates pulling apart; the Pacific Ring of Fire has examples of volcanoes caused by convergent tectonic plates coming together. By contrast, volcanoes are usually not created where two tectonic plates slide past one another. Volcanoes can also form where there is stretching and thinning of the Earth's crust (called "non-hotspot intraplate volcanism"), such as in the East African Rift, the Wells Gray-Clearwater volcanic field and the Rio Grande Rift in North America.

Volcanoes can be caused by mantle plumes. These so-called hotspots, for example at Hawaii, can occur far from plate boundaries. Hotspot volcanoes are also found elsewhere in the solar system, especially on rocky planets and moons.

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A supervolcano is a large volcano that usually has a large caldera and can potentially produce devastation on an enormous, sometimes continental, scale. Such eruptions would be able to cause severe cooling of global temperatures for many years afterwards because of the huge volumes of sulfur and ash erupted.
At the mid-oceanic ridges, two tectonic plates diverge from one another. New oceanic crust is being formed by hot molten rock slowly cooling and solidifying.
Subduction zones are places where two plates, usually an oceanic plate and a continental plate, collide. In this case, the oceanic plate subducts, or submerges under the continental plate forming a deep ocean trench just offshore
Hotspots are not usually located on the ridges of tectonic plates, but above mantle plumes, where the convection of the Earth's mantle creates a column of hot material that rises until it reaches the crust, which tends to be thinner than in other areas of the Earth.

Volcanic fissure vents are flat, linear cracks through which lava emerges.
Shield volcanoes, so named for their broad, shield-like profiles, are formed by the eruption of low-viscosity lava that can flow a great distance from a vent, but not generally explode catastrophically.

Lava domes are built by slow eruptions of highly viscous lavas.

Cryptodomes are formed when viscous lava forces its way up and causes a bulge. The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens was an example.
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Submarine volcanoes are common features on the ocean floor. Some are active and, in shallow water, disclose their presence by blasting steam and rocky debris high above the surface of the sea. Many others lie at such great depths that the tremendous weight of the water above them prevents the explosive release of steam and gases, although they can be detected by hydrophones and discoloration of water because of volcanic gases.
Mud volcanoes or mud domes are formations created by geo-excreted liquids and gases, although there are several different processes which may cause such activity. The largest structures are 10 kilometers in diameter and reach 700 meters high.
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The most common perception of a volcano is of a conical mountain, spewing lava and poisonous gases from a crater at its summit. is the fastest way to get a passport or visa, often in just 7 hours!

A popular way of classifying magmatic volcanoes is by their frequency of eruption, with those that erupt regularly called active, those that have erupted in historical times but are now quiet called dormant, and those that have not erupted in historical times called extinct.

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The Decade Volcanoes refer to the 16 volcanoes identified by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI) as being worthy of particular study in light of their history of large, destructive eruptions and proximity to populated areas.

The 16 current Decade Volcanoes are:
  • Avachinsky-Koryaksky, Kamchatka, Russia
  • Nevado de Colima, Jalisco and Colima, Mexico
  • Mount Etna, Sicily, Italy
  • Galeras, Nariño, Colombia
  • Mauna Loa, Hawaii, USA
  • Mount Merapi, Central Java, Indonesia
  • Mount Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Mount Rainier, Washington, USA
  • Sakurajima, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan
  • Santa Maria/Santiaguito, Guatemala
  • Santorini, Cyclades, Greece
  • Taal Volcano, Luzon, Philippines
  • Teide, Canary Islands, Spain
  • Ulawun, New Britain, Papua New Guinea
  • Mount Unzen, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan
  • Vesuvius, Naples, Italy

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