Volcanoes Essay

1005 words - 4 pages

The Eruption of Mount Saint HelensOne day in October 1857, the people of Carson, Washington, saw something very unusual. They watched Mount St. Helens come to life as ash and steam come out of it. It killed 57 people and covered miles with ash. It had been dormant until May 18, 1980 when it exploded in one of the most violent eruptions ever recorded in North America. A severe earthquake earlier that day opened a crack along the mountain's north side. It caused the rock to fall, which was followed by a blast of steam, rock and magma. The magma flow destroyed surrounding forests and carried debris as far as 17 miles away. An explosive steam eruption on March 27, 1980, followed the first one. Mount St. Helens is one of the world's 1,500 active volcanoes.The Tsunami in IndonesiaOn Dec. 26, 2004, at 7:59 AM local time, an undersea earthquake of 9.0 struck the coast of the island of Sumatra. Over the next seven hours, a tsunami--a series of enormous ocean waves--caused by the earthquake stretched across the Indian Ocean, devastating coastal areas as far away as East Africa. Some locations reported that the waves had reached 30ft or more when they hit the shoreline. At least 225,000 people were killed across a dozen countries, with Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Maldives, and Thailand sustaining massive damage.The Formation of HawaiiMillions of years ago fiery rock erupted through a crack in the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Gradually the lava cooled and formed great undersea mountains whose tops stuck out from the ocean. Over the centuries of wind, water, fire, and ice on the chain of peaks, created the islands that became the state of Hawaii--a land of exotic flowers, unique black sand beaches, tremendous agriculture and majestic mountains.VolcanoesOne major 18th-century school thought that molten rock and volcanoes were accidents caused by burning coal seams. We now know that the term volcano can mean the vent where magma erupts, or the landform created by the solid lava and remains near the vent. An active volcano is a mountain that could erupt, or throw out volcanic materials. Pools of magma collect deep beneath the surface of the ground, then pressure and heat build up inside the volcano, after that volcanic materials; such as magma, ash, gases, and rocks finally burst through openings in the volcano. After magma, which is molten earth, bursts out of the volcano, it becomes lava, which flows down the volcano's sides. The most common toxic volcanic gases, resulting from the eruption, are carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide. Volcanoes are also associated with tectonic activity. Tectonic activity involves the surface plates moving and colliding with each other. Active volcanoes aren't spread randomly over the Earth, most occur in belts bordering the Pacific Ocean. Topographic maps show the locations of large earthquakes and confirm the boundaries of the 12 major tectonic plates.We never see most of the earth's volcanic eruptions,...

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