Category Archives: FAQ

These are recent or frequent questions about volcanoes, volcanology, or who knows what!

Can Volcanoes Form Just Anywhere?

There are three main places where volcanoes originate: Hot spots, Divergent plate boundaries (such as rifts and mid-ocean ridges), and Convergent plate boundaries (subduction zones) The origin of the magma for hot spots is not well known. We do know … Continue reading

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When was the last time Mt. Fuji erupted?

Mt. Fuji is a beautiful example of a stratovolcano, and is almost a perfect symmetric cone (at least when viewed from far away).  It is mostly basalt, which is a little bit unusual for stratovolcanoes as most stratovolcanoes are constructed … Continue reading

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How many volcanoes are there in the United States??

Good question!  (I’m looking at you Mr. Jindal…) Here’s a list compiled a few years back from Volcanoes of North America: United States and Canada, by Wood and Kienle.  They list all volcanoes that are younger that 5 million years old … Continue reading

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Why is magma called lava after it erupts?

Magma comes from an Italian word that means a thick, pasty substance, which is how molten rock behaves within the Earth. Lava, another Italian word, means to slide, which is what molten rock does once it reaches the surface. All … Continue reading

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What’s the biggest volcano in the world?

The largest volcano in the world, Mauna Loa in Hawaii which is estimated at around 80,000 cubic kilometers.   Peter Lipman of the U.S. Geological Survey used high resolution bathymetry of the underwater slopes of the volcano, data from seismic … Continue reading

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Has there ever been any volcanic activity in Australia?

There have not been any eruptions in Australia during this century. The most recent eruption in Australia was at Mt. Gambier, a shield volcano in the Newer Volcanic Province, Victoria.   The Newer Volcanics Province in Victoria Australia is made … Continue reading

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What was the name of the vulcanology explorer who had himself lowered into a crater with an active lava lake ?

I believe the person you are thinking of is Haroun Tazieff (pictured below) who tried to lower himself into the lava lake at Mount Nyiragongo. Wikipedia has this stub on him: He was featured in a 1973 National Geographic … Continue reading

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Which volcano has killed the most people?

The eruption of Tambora in Indonesia in 1815 killed the most people.  It was a huge eruption that sent ash into the stratosphere that then spread around the world.  World climate was noticeably cooler the following year, and in places … Continue reading

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What is a hot spot and what is a mantle plume??

Several folks have written in after seeing the news reports of lava in Hawaii flowing through the Royal Gardens Subdivision past the house of Jack Thompson, the only remaining resident…  (The flow is approximately 500 yards away from his home…I … Continue reading

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Please tell me about Mount Cameroon

Volcanoes in Cameroon are part of the Cameroon line, a chain of volcanoes extending from Annobon Island in the Atlantic Ocean northeastward through Cameroon.  The oldest rocks have been dated at 70 million years old.  Nine volcanoes along the line … Continue reading

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