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By Rafael Almanza

The United States is home to a plethora of volcanoes, while 161 of them are currently active. Volcanoes are openings in the earth's crust that lead to plate boundaries; these openings erupt with an extremely hot substance known as magma. Volcanoes are formed primarily by magma attempting to escape to the earth's surface. Many factors contribute to a volcano erupting, the most important of which is the gas formed from magma, which creates a lot of pressure until the vessel can no longer hold the pressure and bursts. Where does the lava come from, and how does it cause such devastation?

In A.D. 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted, causing severe damage to an ancient city. Pompeii was an ancient Roman city in Italy where people went to trade and conduct business. However, the area was near a volcano called Mount Vesuvius, which carried out a huge lava eruption, destroying the city of Pompeii at a temperature of about 300 °C (572 °F). This left the city in despair, so much so that about two thousand residents of the city were left suffocating from the fumes , then being subsequently coated with volcanic ash. Pompeii is now viewed as a museum to present the destruction that was held upon it, with molds of people cowering in fear.

Volcanoes are seen as holes straight through the Earth’s crust. In order for a volcano to form, water from the subducting plate can be pushed upward by subduction, off the subducting plate, and into the mantle wedge. As a result, the mantle's melting point drops, and it melts, becoming magma. This magma will rise and seep into the crust, creating a volcano. There are also volcanoes underwater, which are known as submarine volcanoes. However, submarine volcanoes have a similar process of formation called subduction, which is where a continental plate or another oceanic plate sinks beneath a different oceanic plate. Submarine volcanoes also form when two tectonic plates separate or conflict.

Once the volcano is formed, there is magma beneath the earth from the melting mantle. This magma begins to build pressure since the earth is constantly releasing it. Another factor in a volcano eruption is water vapor, which builds up pressure within the volcano as well. Once the volcano builds up enough pressure, it erupts, causing the surfaces that the lava touches to harden and become igneous rock. When the volcano explodes, the magma becomes lava. The lava can cause hazardous gasses world-wide, which can affect many aspects of the Earth, such as health concerns, floods, and wildfires.

More than 80% of the Earth’s surface has a volcanic origin. Though volcanoes take hundreds of years to form, their outcomes last for around seven weeks. The United States is home to a plethora of volcanoes, with 161 of them currently active. Overall, volcanoes are very dangerous and have sudden eruptions. A volcano eruption can also cause worldwide harm!

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