Life Characters

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Hot! Fire! Destruction! These are words that most people associate with volcanoes. But
some good effects can come out of volcanoes. Volcanoes also have their own special
mythology associated with them. A lot of volcanoes have some general characteristics in
common. There are many volcanoes around the world and some have special characteristics.
So come along and take a trip with me into the wonderful and exciting world of volcanoes.

Over 550 volcanoes have erupted on the surface of the Earth since human kind has been able
to record history. Their destructiveness has claimed the lives of over 200,000 people
during the last 500 years with 26,000 deaths between 1980 and 1990 alone. They have also
cause an innumerable amount of property damage. The biggest eruption of the twentieth
century was the eruption of Novarupta on the peninsula of Alaska.

The amount of lava that erupted measured to roughly 15 cubic kilometers! All of the lava
erupted equaled to the amount of 30 times the amount of lava that came from Mount Saint
Helens and it is also the equivalent of 230 years of eruptions at Mount Kilauea. The
eruption lasted for 60 hours on June 6, 1920.

The biggest eruption, despite its size, was not the most destructive, for the most
destructive was the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in Oregon during the week of May
18,1980. This eruption mainly caused just loss of property, because many people didn?t
expect the volcano to erupt. Although some people did die, this volcano was kind of weak
compared to the size of the eruption and amount of lives lost in other eruptions like
Tambora, Indonesia in 1815 where 92,000 people died.

Despite all of these bad effects, some life still shines through these tragedies. For
example the ash that a volcano spews out covers many square miles of plants and trees.
This holds in water and waters plants. The ash also contains many nutrients that plants
use. A little more than 80 percent of the Earth?s surface is volcanic in origin, meaning
that most of the Earth?s surface was formed by volcanoes. Also, magma deposits heat water
underground which produces geothermal energy.

The word volcano comes from an island off of the coast of Sicily called Vulcano. The
people of Sicily thought that the clouds of dust and spurts of lava were made from Vulcan,
the blacksmith for the Roman Gods. They believed that Vulcan forged thunderbolts for Zeus
and weapons for Mars on that island.

Out of the 550 of the world?s active volcanoes, the world?s largest active volcano is
Mauna Loa, it is one of the Hawaiian islands. The island protrudes around 13,677 feet
above sea level; while the whole island was formed by an underwater volcano, this brings
it 28,000 feet above the ocean floor where it started. From the base underwater to the
summit above water, this volcano stands higher than Mount Everest.

There are two main types of volcanoes out there in the world today, the first is felsic,
and the second is mafic. Felsic volcanoes have a high silica content and a light color to
the lava. The second, mafic, has just the opposite, a low silica content and a darker

Then there are underwater volcanoes and above ground volcanoes. The underwater volcanoes
are less known about than above ground for the obvious reason that they are seen when they
are above ground. Underwater volcanoes produce some things called black smokers, they are
basically just ash as well as black smoke that combine and heat up water to boiling

An interesting fact about underwater volcanoes is that some islands have been formed by
lava eruptions building up year after year. An island chain that is very well known that
has been formed by this process is the chain of the Hawaiian Island chain. This chain also
includes the world?s largest volcano, Mauna Lao, which, when you count the amount
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