Yesterday we gave you 10 interesting facts about volcanoes but that was never a complete list. Today we will give you 30 more interesting fact about these deadly weapons of Nature. Volcanoes are synonymous to destruction and death. They will burn and destroy anything and everything that comes their way.
Volcanic ash, gases, lava bombs and lava flows are all very destructive on their own but Mother Nature appears to be never satisfied when unleashing these messengers of death. Any eruption of category 6 or beyond on VEI scale will also invite Tsunamis and shockwaves that will amplify the magnitude of destruction.
So, let us today learn 30 more interesting facts about volcanoes and find out more about their uniquely hellish qualities.
Facts about Volcanoes: 1-5
1. Anything that humans cannot control or are afraid of has been associated with gods and divinity. Volcanoes are no different. Ancient cultures had their own versions of volcano gods. Ancient Greeks had Hepaistos – the god of craftsmanship and fire. Hepaistos of Greeks inspired god Vulcan for the Romans. For Romans Vulcan was blacksmith of gods. It is being said that Vulcan’s forge was on Vulcano, a volcanic island from which the volcanoes derived their names.
2. Similar to Vulcan, we have Pele among Hawaiians. Pele is the goddess of volcanoes. According to stories and legends, Pele once fought with her sister Namakaokahai and this resulted in the creation of volcanoes and that Pele became the supreme commander of the volcanoes.
3. Native Americans are not far behind and their concept of gods of volcanoes is somewhat similar to that of Hawaiians. Native American legends say that volcanoes were created by a duel between gods named Skell and Llao. Interestingly different tribes of Native Americans have their own version of legends.
4. The Aztec Empire gives the most interesting version of volcano gods. They humanized the twin volcanoes Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl. People actually went as far as building statues with human faces and worshiped those statues. Of these two volcanic mountains, the bigger one is represented by Gregorio – a person with wavy, blond and long hair.
5. Did you know that volcanoes can appear all of a sudden from the middle of nowhere? Paricutin, the Mexican volcano is a perfect example. Farmers, back in 1943, heard rumbling noises and noticed a long crack on the ground. They did not really pay attention because it was only shin-deep.
Moments later, the crack started widening with the rumbling noises deepening. They noticed that the earth gradually started rising. Within hours they noticed ash and sulfur coming out of the ground. Yes, Paricutin was born literally from the middle of nowhere.
After initial phase, the volcano was merely 6 meters tall. 24 hours later it was 165 meters tall and in 6 days it was 230 meters tall. The lava flow the Paricutin gradually consumed a town named San Juan. The volcano kept erupting for 9 years and eventually died out but before it died, it had covered 10 sq. mi. of fertile and cultivable land trapped under lava.
Facts about Volcanoes: 6-10
6. The Paricutin volcano is a cinder cone volcano which rose up to the height of 424 meters or 1,391 feet before it eventually died in 1952. This volcano is a monogenetic volcano. A monogenetic volcano is a type of volcano that never erupts again once it dies. So, Paricutin will never erupt again.
7. Volcanoes can dramatically impact global climate. A volcanic eruption releases huge amounts ash that gets trapped in atmosphere and prevents sun rays from reaching the Earth. This results in a temperature drop and the climate cools down. This is a long term effect.
In case you are wondering about immediate short term effects, the acid that is released by volcanic eruptions destroys the ozone layer, letting in harmful UV rays of Sun.
Apart from that, these eruptions also release enormous amounts of carbon dioxide which is responsible for greenhouse effect and immediately increase the temperature. The Krakatoa volcanic eruption in 1883 led to a temperature drop of 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit in Northern Hemisphere.
8. Stratovolcanoes or composite volcanoes are usually found in areas where one of the tectonic plates moves beneath another tectonic plate and produces magma.
9. Shield volcanoes are world’s largest volcanoes. They have gentle and broad slopes which are made of fluid basalt lavas.
10. World’s largest active volcano is located in Hawaii. Known as Mauna Loa, it rises 4,170 meters or 13,677 feet above the sea level. If measured from deep ocean floor, it measures a total of 8,534 meters or 28,000 feet. The total volume of Mauna Lao is 19,000 cubic miles, which is equivalent to 80,000 cubic kilometers.
Facts about Volcanoes: 11-15
11. Indonesia ranks first in terms of number of active volcanoes throughout history. Second position is taken by Japan while U.S. ranks third in the list.
12. Almost 80% of earth’s surface below or above sea level has volcanic origins.
13. Over last 10,000 years, a total of 1,500 or more volcanoes have erupted.
14. Of all volcanoes present on Earth, majority are located on seafloor. They are mostly located in mid-ocean ridge. The ridge is actually a chain of volcanoes that ring or encircle our planet Earth.
15. Mount Erebus is world’s southernmost active volcano. Located in Antarctica, Mount Erebus houses world’s longest-living lava lakes.
Facts about Volcanoes: 16-20
16. Pyroclastic flow is a term often associated with volcanic eruptions. It actually refers to an avalanche of volcanic gases, rock fragments, pumice and hot ash rushing down the slopes of a volcano at an amazing speed of 100 kilometers or 62 miles per hour.
17. Pyroclastic flows are extremely hot and temperature usually exceeds 500 degree Celsius or 932 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature wood not only burns but gets carbonized.
18. In Italy there is a volcano named Stromboli Volcano which erupts frequently but eruptions are mild. The eruptions are so frequent that scientists have named this type of volcanism as Strombolian eruption.
19. Above sea level there are nearly 1,500 potentially active volcanoes. This number excludes the mid-ocean ridge volcanoes.
20. Hawaiian shield volcanoes form a type of glass known as Pele’s hair. Pele as mentioned before is the volcano goddess of Hawaii. These volcanic glasses are thin and long glass threads appear as molten basaltic glass.
Facts about Volcanoes: 21-25
21. There is something called Pele’s tear. Pele’s tears are nothing but lava bits in lava fountains cooling quickly forming glass chunks or droplets or spherules. Usually black, Pele’s tears can be found at the ends of strands of Pele’s hair.
22. We have heard of volcanic or lava bombs but what exactly are they? They are nothing but fragments of lava that take a rounded shape while flying through air.
23. World’s oldest and longest document activity is of Mount Etna. It has been active and erupted since 1500 B.C.
24. World’s largest and active supervolcano is Yellowstone Caldera. On top of the Caldera is the Yellowstone National Park. The Yellowstone supervolcano erupted thousands of years ago but till date fuels nearly 10,000 hot springs and geysers (half of world’s geothermal features).
25. Volcanoes are often associated with what are known as Phreatic eruptions. These are nothing but eruptions caused by streams. What happens is that water either above or beneath the ground is heated to such an extent that it starts boiling and forms steam, which in turn causes the eruption.
Facts about Volcanoes: 26-30
26. Our entire world is threatened by what is known as Pacific Ring of Fire. It is actually a volcano string around Pacific Ocean’s perimeter. The Pacific Ring of Fire is responsible for giving some of the world’s deadliest eruptions. This is the area where several tectonic plates move beneath each other.
27. The Pacific Ring of Fire houses 452 volcanoes that cover 75% of world’s total dormant and active volcanoes above sea level.
28. We have used the term caldera several times. What really is it? It is nothing but a circular depression formed at the summit of a volcano after a large eruption. Once a big eruption takes place, the volcano collapses in on itself and spews out gases, lava and ash that flow down from the edges of the circular depression or caldera.
29. There is a type of volcanic rock known as pumice. This rock is the only type of rock on Earth that can float on water. Typical pumice will have numerous bubbly holes. These holes are created when the rock cools and hot gases get out of the rock in form of jets.
30. Gases and ash spewed out by a volcanic eruption can change sunset colors. Why? This happens because sunlight needs to travel through greater number of obstacles as usual and the sun rays are broken down towards the spectrum’s red end. This makes the sunset appear more reddish.
Well, that concludes our list here. However, we are still sitting on the tip of the iceberg. There’s lot more about these extremely destructive natural forces and we will cover these in other lists. Until then, feel free to share some interesting facts that you know but have not been listed here.
Image Credits: 1, 2