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Volcanoes: Nature’s Fiery Mountains


Volcano erupting with lava flow

Volcanoes are a great way to find out what goes on inside the Earth! These amazing mountains are powerful, and can erupt with hot lava, ash and gas. This can definitely cause damage, but they are also awe-inspiring. 

The word volcano comes from the ancient Roman God of Fire, Vulcan. People used to believe that they were controlled by the gods. Let’s take a closer look at what a volcano is! 

A volcano is an opening in the Earth’s crust that allows magma that normally is found below the crust to escape. Magma is hot, molten rock and it is formed deep beneath the Earth’s surface, where temperatures and pressures are so great that rocks melt. When that magma rises to the surface, it can either flow out of the volcano, or it can explode into the air in an eruption. Once the magma is above the Earth’s surface, it is called lava. 

Volcanoes are most commonly found where the Earth’s plates meet. The Earth’s surface is divided up into seven tectonic plates, and as they rub against each other, they create friction. The most active boundaries make up what is called The Ring Of Fire.  

There are many different types of volcanic eruptions, but they all start with the same thing, magma rising to the surface. As the magma rises, it can build up pressure. When the pressure gets too high, the magma erupts out of the volcano. 

The type of eruption depends on what the magma is made of and the amount of gas it contains. Some eruptions are quiet and gentle, while others are explosive and violent. During a volcanic eruption, magma, ash, and gas can be ejected from the volcano at high speeds.  

While volcanoes can be destructive, they are also an important part of the Earth’s ecosystem. Volcanic eruptions can release nutrients into the soil, which can help plants grow. Volcanoes can also create new landforms, such as islands and mountains. 

Volcanoes are one of nature’s most powerful forces. 

Try creating and erupting a volcano yourself with National Geographic’s Build Your Own Volcano Kit!