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What is it?
Volcanoes are created by the movements of tectonic plates. When two tectonic plates meet, one of them, usually the oceanic plate goes under the continental plate, a process known as subduction. It melts afterwards creating magma & generating a pressure build-up. Volcanoes can also be created when two plates move away from one another, usually at the level of the mid-oceanic ridges or when a tectonic plate moves over a hot-spot in the Earth’s crust. When the pressure inside them builds up, volcanoes erupt through craters located at their top or in side branches.
The global climate was disrupted for several years after the eruption & sulfur dioxide was injected into the stratosphere, which later came down as rain. The cloud darkened the sky worldwide producing vivid sunsets. The sky in Edvard Munch’s famous 1893 painting is said to have been, inspired by how the sky over Norway actually looked in the wake of Krakatoa’s eruption.
Where is it located?
Volcanoes can be found on land, under the oceans, where they are known as seamounts, & even on other planets. Shield volcanoes are formed out of layers of hardened lava from continuous eruptions. Stratovolcanoes, also known as composite volcanoes, are tall & conical natural structures built on many layers of lava, ejected material & volcanic rocks from periodic eruptions. The three main types of volcanoes in terms of activity are extinct, dormant or active volcanoes. Dormant volcanoes are ‘sleeping’ but could erupt in the future. Extinct volcanoes haven’t erupted for vast periods of time. Active volcanoes are currently erupting or have erupted in the past 10,000 years. Much of earth’s volcanic activity takes place underwater & many of the world’s volcanoes are found in the Ring of Fire, a stretch of land & water forming an arc around the Pacific Ocean. The largest volcano in our solar system is called Olympus Mons located on Mars. This gigantic volcano is around 373 miles wide & roughly 13 miles high. The surface of Io, one of Jupiter’s moons, is covered in volcanoes. The massive volcanic activity causes Io’s surface to change constantly.
5 Mount Pelee
Mount Pelee, located at the northern end of Martinique, erupted in 1902.
The eruptions can be interpreted on a scale known as VEI. A VEI 8 eruption, the highest on the scale, is described as ‘mega-colossal’. The cloud from an eruption can rise tens of thousands of feet into the air & particles can reach the stratosphere changing the weather in certain regions by blocking out the sun’s radiation. The velocity can reach 100 miles per hour & temperatures approaching 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit.
4 Mount Tambora
This is the largest eruption ever recorded, measuring 7 on the VEI. Mount Tambora, located on Sumbawa Island, Indonesia, reached the peak in April 1815, by being so loud that it was heard 1,200 miles away. The eruption reduced it’s height from 13,000 to 9,000 feet. It caused the ‘year without summer’ as ash in the atmosphere reduced the temperature, a phenomenon felt worldwide. Crop failures as far as Europe & America were affected.
3 Siberian Traps
It took place around 250 million years ago. 95% of all species living at the time were completely wiped out. It would take another 30 million years for life on Earth to recover. No one knows for sure the combination of factors that led to what’s been described as the ‘mother of all events’.
In case an eruption finds you in a solid structure, it’s better to stay inside. The gases released in the atmosphere along with the lava, so going outside is not a good idea. You should close doors, windows & block chimneys or other vents. It’s good to have an emergency bag that’s equipped with at least three days’ worth of food & drinking water. The bag should contain goggles, a mask, a flashlight & a battery powered radio.
Many who visit the Yellowstone National Park might not know that an active volcano is actually rumbling beneath their feet. Three VEI 8 eruptions rocked the area in the past, the most recent one having taken place around 640,000 years ago. The park’s huge crater which measures 30 by 45 miles across was created by this last eruption.
1 Mount Sinanbung
The volcano had been increasingly active in the months prior to the eruption, spewing ash columns into the air that were several miles high.