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Visiting Volcanos

Looking for an exciting and unique vacation destination? Embarking on a trip to visit some of the world's most well known volcanoes gives travelers an opportunity to hike and possibly even see lava flowing. Located in Italy, Mount Vesuvius may be the most famous volcano in history. Its famous explosion in 79 A.D. destroyed the village of Pompeii . Today the Vesuvius National Park is a popular tourist attraction and the volcano is expected to erupt at some time in the future.

Presently dormant, Mount Fuji in Japan is the country's highest mountain and a cultural icon, often represented in Japanese art. Mount Fuji is especially popular in the summer months when large numbers of international visitors come for mountain climbing. Japan is also home to Mount Sakurajima, which constantly experiences small eruptions and lava flows. Hawaii is home to several well-known volcanoes, perhaps none more famous than Mount Kilauea. Kilauea is part of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, as is Mauna Loa, the world's largest volcano.

Of course, safety is of the utmost importance when visiting a volcano. Listen to any warnings or precautions given by local authorities and guides. Take plenty of water, pack appropriate clothing and sturdy shoes, and watch out for volcanic fumes that can affect breathing.


What is a volcano?

Simply put, a volcano is a rupture in the Earth's crust.  Many volcanoes are hills and mountains such as Mount Rainer in Washington state. When the pressure of magna and gases gets too high, an eruption occurs.

Why are they called volcanoes?

"Vulcano" is the name of a volcanic island north of Sicily. The island was named for the ancient Roman god of fire, "Vulcan", and this is where the term originated.

Are there volcanoes underwater?

There are thousands of volcanoes underwater. They are called submarine volcanoes and exist in both deep and shallow ocean waters. The Axial Seamount is a well-known underwater volcano located a few hundred miles off the shore of Cannon Beach, Oregon.

What are the different types of volcanoes?

There are four main types of volcanoes, classified based on formation and appearance. Composite volcanoes, or stratovolcanoes, are steep-sided and look like mountains; they grow larger over time from deposits of ash and other volcanic materials. Shield volcanoes are bowl-shaped, developing from liquid lava flows. Cinder cone volcanoes are formed from small fragments of lava, giving them a circular or oval appearance. Dome volcanoes tend to form on the sides of composite volcanoes. Thick lava flows inside the volcano, causing it to grow out.

Why do volcanoes stop erupting?

Volcanoes erupt when magma, temperature, or pressure builds up.  As the temperature and pressure lowers, the eruption stops.

What is the difference between dormant and extinct volcanoes?

Extinct volcanoes no longer have a source of magma, while dormant volcanoes have not erupted in recent times, but still have the potential to erupt.

Do any volcanoes erupt in regular cycles?

All volcanoes go through different cycles or phases and because the history of a volcano is much older than human history, it is sometimes difficult to track regular volcanic cycles. Some volcanoes show constant eruption patterns, including Mount Stromboli in Italy.

Why are volcanoes mostly located around the Pacific area?

The majority of volcanoes are formed along subduction zones, as the borders of tetonic plates collide and pull apart. The process causes the rock to melt and lava to rise to the surface. The Pacific Northwest is part of the "Ring of Fire", an area where major tetonic plates are located, causing chains of volcanoes and volcanic islands to form. Alaska's Mount Redoubt is located there.  

How hot is lava?

Lava temperatures are typically around 1,200 °C or 2,200 °F.  Some volcanoes, such as those in Hawaii, offer tours where visitors can observe volcanic eruptions from a safe distance.

Are lava and magma the same thing?

"Magma" is the term used to describe molten rock underground, while "lava" is magma that has reached the surface. Lava also contains various gases and elements including silicon and oxygen.

How many volcanoes are there on Earth?

The exact number of volcanoes is difficult to determine, as many are located deep on the ocean's floor. Many volcanoes are actually fields making up a group of volcanoes such as the Clear Lake Volcano Field in California. The Michoacán-Guanajuato field in Mexico makes up over 1,400 shield volcanoes and cinder cones.

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