Volcanoes and Earth
Everyone has heard about volcanoes. Some are fascinated by them; however, others just don’t pay attention. Many people don’t understand why volcanoes exist and why they are beneficial to life on earth.
Volcanoes form once magma from within the earth’s core works its way up to the surface. Eruptions happen once the magma becomes so thick that bubbles of gas can no longer escape. This causes immense pressure to build up and eventually, once the gas is trapped, the volcano erupts and the gas is finally let free.
History of Volcanoes
Nobody is quite sure of when the first volcano erupted due to varying opinions of what truly qualifies as a volcano. However, scientists were able to discover the first instance of lava flow ever recorded on planet earth. This dates back almost 4 billion years near the village of Inukjuak in modern day Canada. At the same time, many scientists wouldn’t consider this a “true” volcano. The oldest known Volcano that still maintains the shape of one would be Mount Etna in Italy. It is often called the oldest active volcano because it has erupted more than 200 times in the past 3,500 years. It first erupted in 1500 B.C, however there aren’t any recordings of eruptions prior to then. We do know that in Hawaii there are two volcanoes named Kilauea and Mauna Loa, which have been active for more than 100,000 years. The island of Hawaii itself is the youngest volcano of the Hawaiian-Emperor Sea Mount chain. The oldest volcano in the chain is the inactive volcano Meiji, which is 85 million years old.
The Benefits of Volcanoes
At first glance many people see volcanoes as a dangerous phenomenon that is only on earth to cause harm. However, this assumption can not be farther from the truth. The eruptions of volcanoes play a large role in cooling the atmosphere. The sulfur that is present in these volcanoes combines with water in the atmosphere and, as a result, cools the lowest level of the atmosphere, helping us breathe and live. The dried lava that forms due to volcanic eruptions helps form new pieces of land, which can be used in a variety of ways. Something that is unknown to many is that volcanoes actually have helped and continue to help produce water for earth. This water materializes from the steam that is emitted from volcanic explosions. Additionally, volcanoes play a big role in helping to fertilize land. When volcanic materials are mixed with soil they generate a lot of important nutrients and keep land nearby in pristine condition. Lastly, volcanoes are a big facilitator in elevating raw materials to the surface. Elements such as gold, copper, and sulfur are brought up to the surface, while diamond is formed from eruptions. Volcanic material can also be used to create building material such as cement. Overall, volcanoes have proven to be very beneficial to mankind and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.