"Nature raves savagely, threatening the lands"
Pliny the Elder, who died of asphyxiation after
observing the destruction of Pompeii by the
79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
In this Lesson...
In this lesson you will use the Internet to research
information on volcanoes and then write a report on
A volcano is a location where magma,
or hot melted rock from within a planet,
reaches the surface. It may happen violently,
in a massive supersonic explosion, or more
quietly, as a sticky, slow lava flow.
Volcanoes have been a part of earth's history
long before humans. Compare the history of human beings,
a few million years in the making, to that of
the Earth, over four billion years
in the making.
Volumes of Some Well-Known Volcanic Eruptions
Eruption Date Volume in km^3
-------- ---- --------------
Paricutin, Mexico 1943 1.3
Mt. Vesuvius, Italy 79 A.D. 3
Mount St. Helen, Washington 1980 4
Krakatoa, Indonesia 1883 18
Long Valley, California pre-historic >450 & <700
Yellowstone, Wyoming pre-historic 2400
How many of these do you know?
The term nuée ardente, or
"glowing cloud" was first used by La Croix (1904)
in his description of the volcanic flows he observed in
the 1902 eruption of Mt Pelée, a historically
active volcano on the island of Martinique.
The study of volcanoes, or Volcanology,
includes many odd terms.
Listed below are two places in the United States that are
considered "active" volcanic areas.
Mount St Helens
On May 18, 1980, after a long period of rest, this quiet
mountain in Washington provided a detailed
observations on the mechanics of highly explosive
This field seismometer measures earthquakes associated
with subsurface volcanic forces and may help to predict
future events. It sits on a plateau known as the "Volcanic
Tableland" formed by a major eruption 600,000 years ago.
-- [full size image, 55k] --
Mars has its fair share of volcanic landforms,
including the largest known volcano in the solar system,
Your mission is to find information and report on a volcano,
other than the ones listed above, that has erupted in the last
100 years. Your reports must include:
- Type of volcano
- Geographic location
- Name, distance, and population of nearest major city
- Dates of most recent and most destructive eruptions.
- Other events associated with the recent eruptions
(earthquakes, floods, mudslides, etc)
Then, write a one page description on the major hazards to humans
in the vicinity of this volcano. Speculate on what you would do
if you were in charge of minimizing the risk to the population.
Check your library for these books:
- Cas, R.A.F. and Wright, J. V. (1987).
- Volcanic Successions: Modern and Ancient.
London: Allen & Unwin.
- La Croix, A. (1904)
- La Montagna Pelée et ses Éruptions.
- Lipman, P.W. and Mullineaux (eds). (1981)
- The 1980 Eruptions of Mount St. Helens, Washington.
U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1250.
created by Ithara Phlong, firstname.lastname@example.org
Volcanic Studies, Big University
last modified: September 12, 2000