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Volcanoes Essay

5682 words - 23 pages

Volcanoes

Distribution Volcanoes can be described as being tectonic hazards that
occur in many parts of the world. The distribution of volcanoes is
closely linked with the positioning of the tectonic plate boundaries
across the globe. Today there are about 500 active volcanoes in the
world. The world map of volcanoes in your atlas shows that the most
volcanic activity occurs along the West coasts of North and South
America, (along the Rockies and Andes) and the coasts of many Far East
countries (in areas like Japan, China etc).

The positioning of these volcanoes coincide with major plate
boundaries. E.g. the volcanoes along the West coast of North America
are the result of the Juan de Fuca plate converging with the North
American plate. Another example is the volcanoes formed in the Andes
Mountains are a result of the convergence of the Nazca and South
American plates. Other areas that have high volcanic activity are
along the plate boundaries of the Eurasian and African plates.

Most of the volcanic activity on Earth occurs on the island of
Iceland. Which is due to the formation of the Mid-Atlantic ridge,
which is where two tectonic plates are diverging away from each other.
Features Volcanoes release large amounts of energy from beneath the
lithosphere, (Earth's crust and upper part of the mantle) and
asthenosphere, (semi-molten mantle).

During volcanic eruptions molten rock or magma rises up from the
asthenosphere towards the surface as it's propelled by gases
surrounding it. Some eruptions can occur through cracks in the Earth's
surface called fissures. As magma reaches the surface, it's called
lava. Common features of major volcanic eruptions include: pyroclastic
flows which is material ejected by volcanoes in a fragmented form. The
pyroclastic flows are clouds of ash, stones etc that move down the
side of volcanoes and carry any debris in its way. A famous
pyroclastic flow occurred when Mt Pinatubo erupted in 1991. Mud
volcanoes, which may form where hot water mixes with mud and surface
deposits. Solfataras, that are created when mainly sulphurous gases
escape onto the surface. Geysers, occuring when water in the lower
crust is heated by rocks and turns to steam, pressure increases and
the steam and water explode onto the surface. Fumaroles, formed when
superheated water turns to steam as its pressure drops when it emerges
from the ground. Formation: - there are three main ways in which
volcanoes can be formed.

At constructive plate margins This is where two tectonic plates are
diverging away from each other, which causes new crust to be created
at the boundary between these two plates. A well known example is
where the North and South American plates are pulled away from the
Eurasian and African plates due to convection currents. This has
caused the...

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