They happen due to the molten rock, debris, and gases that are emitted from beneath the Earth’s surface. Essentially, what volcanoes do is help the Earth release the tension that builds up. When magma and large amounts of gas build up under the surface, eruptions can be explosive, expelling lava, rocks and ash into the air (National Geographic, 2018). The manner in which they erupt depends on the gases, magma, and other particles meaning there can be minor eruptions with little consequences or large eruptions with devastating consequences. Some of these volcanoes have destroyed entire cities; they can destroy just about anything for several miles. Nearby residents don’t always have time to prepare for an eruption as some of these volcanoes erupt spontaneously and quickly (Thompson 2008). Volcanoes tend to exist along the edges between
Figure 1: Mount Cleveland tectonic plates, massive rock slabs that make up Earth’s surface. To this day there is about 1,500 active volcanoes worldwide, and about 161 volcanoes within the United States that most likely will erupt at some point in the future. About 90 percent of all volcanoes exist within the Ring of Fire along the edges of the Pacific Ocean (National Geographic 2018).
These volcanoes are located where there are cracks or fissures in the Earth, mainly by the boundaries of the seven major and 152 smaller pieces called tectonic plates. These plates are on what is called magma, or liquid rock with dissolved gases. When these plates move, in whatever direction that is, the magma makes its way out of the cracks through vents or may shoot out through the volcanoes (Live Science 2018). There are three different kinds of volcanoes: cinder cone, stratovolcanoes, and shield volcanoes. Cinder cones are the simplest type of volcano. They are made of small pieces of lava called cinder, which erupt from a vent. The material that is blasted out into the air such as molten rocks, ash, and gas is what then piles up and forms a cinder cone; they can be as high as a thousand feet above the surrounding ground (USGS 2018). A composite volcano, or stratovolcano, are usually tall with steep even sides and are made out of repeating layers of lava flows, volcanic ash, cinders, blocks, and volcanic bombs (USGS 2018). Some of these volcanoes rise over 8,000 feet above their surroundings, but they reach much higher surroundings, but they reach much higher elevations when compared to the level of the sea (USGS 2018).
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