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Volcanoes: Violent Outbursts

Did you know at any point of time there are at least 20 active volcanoes that are erupting somewhere in the world? Many of them are even underneath our oceans!

We live on the outermost layer of the Earth called the crust. The crust is not one complete solid shell but is broken into pieces of thick plates, overlapping each other. These plates are made of rock and drift over a softer mantle that lies below.

At places where cracks appear on the Earth’s surface, hot magma from below moves upward to the Earth’s surface. This occurs in the form of lava, rock and ash. As the material piles up, one above the other, it takes the form of a mountain. This is a volcano.

Volcano: A mountain that connects to molten rock below the surface of Earth. When pressure builds up, this molten rock erupts to the surface in the form of lava, hot ash and rock. Volcanoes can erupt slowly or can be quite explosive!

Parts of a Volcano

Beneath lies the volcano’s magma chamber – this is a huge mass of extremely hot, melted rock! The magma is able to come up to the surface via a tube or pipe.

Red and Hot

The red-hot molten rock below the Earth’s surface is called magma. The moment this emerges to the surface, we call it lava.

Active, Dormant or Extinct

Volcanoes can be classified by the level of activity. The names given are quite self-explanatory.


Dormant volcanoes have been active before, and are likely to be active again in the future, but have not erupted for a long time. Dormant volcanoes are really sleeping!

Mount Fuji is one such dormant volcano. It has not erupted since 1707.


As the name suggests, these volcanoes are active. They erupt at regular intervals. Anything that has erupted in the last hundred years would be termed as active. Kilauea in Hawaii is one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

Mount Etna is Italy is an active volcano.


These volcanoes are considered to be dead by scientists! They are unlikely to erupt again in future, and have not erupted for thousands of years.

It is difficult to tell the difference between a dormant and extinct volcano. Vesuvius was once considered dead, but blew up killing 3,500 people!

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