volcano, vent in the crust of the Earth or another planet or satellite, from which issue eruptions of molten rock, hot rock fragments, and hot gases. A volcanic eruption is an awesome display of the Earth’s power. Yet while eruptions are spectacular to watch, they can cause disastrous loss of life and property.
Once, the power of volcanoes was thought to be the work of the gods. Now scientists better understand the subterranean forces that cause these steaming mountains to spew fire and molten rock. Follow the pace and rhythm of geologic movement and time, and see how scientists track this motion to predict the next time a volcano will blow.
A volcano is a vent or chimney which transfers molten rock known as magma from depth to the Earth's surface. Magma erupting from a volcano is called lava and is the material which builds up the cone surrounding the vent.
A volcano is active if it is erupting lava, releasing gas or generates seismic activity. A volcano is dormant if it has not erupted for a long time but could erupt again in the future. Once a volcano has been dormant for more than 10 000 years, it is termed extinct.