Volcanos are openings in the earth’s crust that allow either magma or volcanic ash to escape from inside the magma chamber below the earth’s surface- possibly causing devastation to millions of people. Scientists define volcanoes into two basic categories: active and inactive. Active volcanoes are either in the process of erupting, or likely to erupt within the next 10,000 years. The process of a volcano erupting can be slow at first, but once the volcano erupts, catastrophe can strike in a minute.
“Volcanic eruptions are one of Earth’s most dramatic and violent agents of change. Not only can powerful explosive eruptions drastically alter land and water for tens of kilometers around a volcano, but tiny liquid droplets of sulfuric acid erupted into the stratosphere can change our planet’s climate temporarily” (U.S. Department of the Interior, 2013). Once a volcano erupts, residents living within any close proximity to the volcano must vacate their homes due to acid rain, falling sulfur and flowing magma. Some of these people may never return to their homes ever again.
Volcanic hazards do not solely affect the earth however. The acid rain and the sulfur leftover from volcanoes can cause damage internally in people and livestock living in close proximity to active volcanoes. “Acid rain can be produced when high concentrations of these gases are leached out of the atmosphere. When Katmai erupted in 1912, acid rain damaged clothes that were drying outside on a line 2000 km away from the erupting volcano in Vancouver, British Columbia (Bryant, 1991). High concentrations of CaF2 [burned] vegetation and other material on contact. Fluoride and chloride contaminate[d] water. Livestock died from drinking such contaminated water” (Riley, 2013). Clearly volcanoes pose health problems to both people and animals that live within close range to an active volcano.
Fortunately, science has progressed greatly as far as volcanoes are concerned, and fairly accurate hazard maps have been able to be drawn up- highlighting the areas that are most likely to be prone to hits by active volcanoes. Seismographs and other new scientific technology has helped the scientific community come a long way in researching, forecasting and predicting when a volcano is going to erupt.
“Types of Volcano Hazards.” Types of Volcano Hazards. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 10 May 2013. <http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hazards/>.
Riley, C. M. “Volcanic Hazards.” Volcanic Hazards. Michigan Tech University, n.d. Web. 10 May 2013. <http://www.geo.mtu.edu/volcanoes/hazards/primer/>.