A volcano will form above a chamber or plume of magma. There is a wide variety of volcanoes, and some are more explosive than others. Molten lava is far from the only hazard; volcanic eruptions can cause massive damage with ashfall, pyroclastic flows, toxic gases, and deadly landslides. There are even a few volcanoes considered so dangerous that we call them “supervolcanoes“, and they have the potential to impact society drastically for generations.

Although volcanoes are hazardous, they are a continuous boon for the global economy. The precious minerals and useful rocks formed by volcanic processes have benefited civilization for thousands of years. In the modern economy, we use volcanism as a source of alternative energy and igneous rocks in trades ranging from construction to cosmetics.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the location of volcanoes in relation to plate boundaries.
  • Describe the size, shape, and eruption style of volcanoes and how they form.
  • Explain how scientists monitor and study volcanoes.
  • Identify the major volcanic hazards and their effects on humans and property.
  • Explain how volcanic processes benefit society.


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Dynamic Planet: Exploring Geological Disasters and Environmental Change Copyright © 2021 by Charlene Estrada, Carolina Michele Londono, Merry Wilson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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