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10 Little-Known Facts About Volcanoes

Facts About Volcanoes

When I was a kid, I used to play a game where everything was lava…Except for the couch.

And if you were stuck on the floor, then you’d get burned by lava.

But little did I know: The lava I was referring to came from a volcano, which is a real risk in life.

So even when you were a kid, you knew the stuff that came out of volcanoes can be pretty deadly.

Today, we’re going to look at little-known facts about volcanoes. Enjoy.

1. Ash from volcanoes can spark lightning

Lightning commonly occurs in sync with volcanic eruptions. But how come?

As the ash from a volcano rises, it builds static electricity the same way clouds do. It interacts with the weather system which allows lightning to strike.

2. 75% of volcanoes are at the Ring of Fire

The Pacific Ring of Fire is a string of volcanoes is where the Pacific Ocean seafloor is subducting under the continents. It brings water causing volcanic eruptions from stratovolcanoes.

75% of the world’s volcanoes are at the Ring of Fire. This includes the deadliest volcanoes in the United States, Japan, and the Philippines. Indonesia is the most volcanically active country on the Ring of Fire.

Ring of Fire

3. Lava from volcanoes build new land

Volcanoes are areas inside the planet that makes their way to the surface. They create new land like in Hawaii.

Continents would be smaller if it wasn’t for volcanoes. The majority of Earth’s surface is volcanic rock. All ocean seafloor is created by basalt coming out at mid-ocean ridges.

4. Mauna Loa is taller than Mount Everest

It’s a little-known fact that the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii is taller than Mount Everest. This is because most of the Mauna Loa is below the ocean surface.

From sea level base to its summit, it’s 9,170 meters in height. That’s 300+ meters higher than Mount Everest. Mauna Loa has also been very active erupting 33 times since 1832.

5. Volcanoes released water vapor for us to drink

Volcanoes created much of the water we drink and the air we breathe. Degassing is the process that water existed inside the rocks that made up the Earth itself.

Because Earth’s interior contains minerals with hydrogen and oxygen, volcanoes continually degas releasing H2O as water vapor.

6. Mount Olympus is the largest volcano in the solar system

On Mars, the largest volcano is Mount Olympus. But not only on planet Mars, but it’s also the largest in the whole solar system. Mount Olympus formed billions of years ago.

Mars didn’t have plate tectonics. And it didn’t have surface geology like Earth. But it did have a period of active degassing where huge amounts of gases like water and carbon dioxide ejected out from the interior of Mars.

Mars Topography

7. The mysterious case of Paricutin

A cinder cone volcano “Paricutin” appeared out of nowhere in a cornfield in Mexico. It baffled scientists and became a popular tourist destination for volcanologists to study.

During 9 years of volcanic activity, it left a 420-meter tall cone without erupting ever again. It’s now become one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.

8. Kilauea in Hawaii poses the highest threat in the United States

The United States has a large geographic footprint of volcanoes with >10% of active volcanoes.

According to the USGS National Volcanic Threat Assessment, Kilauea in Hawaii poses the highest threat in the United States because developed areas still exist on the flanks. Next on the list are Mount St. Helens and Rainier as the most deadly.

9. Mudflows (Lahars) are deadly hazards at volcanoes

Lahars are deadly mudflows resulting from volcanoes. They are capable of sweeping people to death and tearing down infrastructure.

According to USGS, lahars caused the deaths of more than 44,000 worldwide between 1600-2010. Lahars are among the most serious ground-based hazards at volcanoes.

10. Temperatures can reach up to 1200+°C at volcanoes

When volcanoes erupt, lava, pyroclastics and volcanic smog (VOG) are among the most dangerous:

  • Lava is molten hot rock. Temperatures reach up to 1200+°C.
  • Then, pyroclastics are deadly because they’re fast, hot, and poisonous. This type of flow can travel at speeds up to 700 mph.
  • Finally, VOG is a form of air pollution mixing sulfur dioxide and other particles from volcanic eruptions.

11. Yellowstone’s super-eruption

The largest eruption from Yellowstone occurred 2.1 million years ago, depositing the Huckleberry ash bed. Yellowstone flung 2,200 km3 of material from Wyoming to Idaho. Since then, super-eruptions also occurred 640,000 and 1.3 million years ago.

Volcano large eruptions

10 Little-Known Facts About Volcanoes

So there you have it. These are the 10 most fascinating facts about volcanoes.

Do you have an interest in learning more about volcanoes? Here are some online courses offered by universities around the world, which you can explore.

Now, it’s time to go back to you. What did we miss for volcano facts? Please let us know with a comment below.


  1. How much gas and solid particulate does the average volcano put into the atmosphere daily?

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