Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Article: Volcanoes. (volcanologists are scientists who study how forces and materials inside the earth cause volcanoes to erupt)

Article: Volcanoes. (volcanologists are scientists who study how forces and materials inside the earth cause volcanoes to erupt)

You are walking along a mountain path. Suddenly the ground rumblets. Stream and hot ash rise from the mountain top. Red hot lava pours out. It's a volcano! Is this a scene from a dinosaur movie? No, it is just another work day for a volcanologist, or volcano scientist.

Earth's Layers

All the rumbling and shaking you feel are part of an eruption. What causes them? Until 30 years ago, no one really knew. Since then scientist have discovered that the Earth's surface, or crust, is broken into huge plates of solid rock. The plates move like giant icebergs over a layer of hot, gooey rock called the mantle. In some places, the plates pull away from each other. In others, the plates crash together. This movement makes cracks in the crust that let melter rock called magma rise up from the center of the Earth's super-hot core.

Inside a Volcano

Scientist have a name for each part of a volcano. The pool of melted rock below the ground is called the magma chamber. The magma rises up through vents to the surface. Once it is above ground, magma is called lava. Then it flows over the sides, or flanks, of a volcano. If an explosion blows the top off the mountain, the hole that is left is called a crater.

Volcano Power

Volcanoes can be very destructive. Besides lava, volcanoes can throw out rocks and boulders, ash, poisonous fumes, and smoke. Heat from a volcano can melt ice and snow and cause huge mud slides and floods. The force from an eruption can knock down everything for many miles.

Volcanoes also help the Earth. Soil that forms from volcanic ash is very good for growing things. Volcanoes can build new land, like the Hawaiian Islands. They also bring precious minerals to the surface where they can be more easily mined. In places like Iceland, they even provide a source of heat and power for homes.

Volcano Know-How

Volcanologists continue to study volcanoes to learn more about predicting eruptions. This knowledge can save lives and protect property. The more we know about volcanoes, the better we can understand the powerful forces that shape our Earth.

Dear Subscriber,

The power and intensity of volcanoes hold a fascination for all ages. From its fiery eruptions to its molten lava flow, studying volcanoes helps us in our quest to understand what is happening inside of our Earth. This Volcanoes issue will help your students discover and learn more about this ancient and ever-present force of nature.

Sincerely, Claude, Mayberry, Publisher


Volcanic eruptions have been a source of wonderment and awe since the dawn of the human race. Civilizations all around the world have told volcano myths to explain the unimaginable power of these destructive mountains. The ancient Romans told of Vulcan, god of fire and metals, who housed his blacksmith shops beneath certain mountains. Smoke and fire flew from Vulcan's chimneys whenever he worked. The Hawaiians believed the hot-tempered goddess Pele was responsible for the formation of their islands. When Pele had frequent arguments with her sister, her foot stamping would cause earthquakes. She'd then use her magic digging stick to gouge out the volcanic craters from which the lava flowed.

Plate Tectonics

In fact, it has only been within the last 30 years that scientists have developed the theory of moving continents called plate tectonics. We now understand …


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