Volcanic Eruptions

By: Kristen Wofford

How does it occur?

Magma rises and collects in magma chambers and is eventually pushed through vents and fissures in the surface of the Earth. When the mama is pushed through the Earth's surface, it is called lava.
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What does this mean for us?

Not only is the lava dangerous to humans, but the volcanic ash and "hot tephra" is harmful as well. Hot tephra is pieces of magma broken apart ranging form the size of an ash particle to house-size boulders. This is a hot cloud that race down a mountainside and burn/disintegrate almost everything in their path. The eruptions that are more dangerous to humans are the ones that are explosive. An explosive eruption occurs when magma is thick and sticky, not allowing gas to escape which causes a buildup of pressure. After the pressure is released, the magma flies out and breaks apart turning into hot tephra.

Should You be Worried?

Unless you live near a volcano, you have nothing to worry about. However, if you live in a city next to a volcano, you should stay updated on volcanic activity near you. However, violent volcanic explosions are not common.

The Intesnity of A Volcanic Eruption

The intensity or explosiveness of a volcanic eruption is measured on the Volcanic Explosivity Index which was devised by Chris Newhall.


Pompeii- In 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius located near the bay of Naples Italy, exploded and covered the city of Pompeii in millions of tons of volcanic ash and superheated poisonous gas.

Santa Maria Volcano- In 1902 Santa Maria explosively erupted after nearly 500 years of inactivity. This explosion left a nearly mile long crater in the earth. It took the lives of nearly 5,000 people with a VEI of 6.

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How do I keep myself safe?

  • Seek Shelter
  • Close All Windows, doors, and dampers
  • Move upslope if you cannot find shelter
  • Wear goggles to protect your eyes
  • Cover your skin with clothing
  • Use a dust mask
  • Keep truck or car engines off


Works Cited

History.com Staff. "Pompeii." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 16 Sept. 2016. <http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/pompeii>.

"USGS FAQs." - Volcanoes General. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2016. <https://www2.usgs.gov/faq/categories/9819/2729>.

"Volcano Safety Tips | Volcano Preparedness | Red Cross." American Red Cross. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2016. <http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/volcano>.