Volcanoes are one of the most dynamic, powerful and destructive forces on the Earth. While they are majestic in appearance, they are often sleeping giants just waiting to wake up and make us take notice. Some of you may have seen volcanic eruptions in person or on TV. Volcanoes are the geologists’ window into the Earth’s interior. If you recall from the previous section, plate tectonics directly influences the location and types of volcanoes we find across the globe. Now we understand why the west coast of America as a chain of volcanoes in the Cascade Mountains and why Japan has so many active volcanoes.
Thumbnail: Pu'u 'O'o, a Volcanic cone on Kilauea, Hawaii. (Public Domain; G.E. Ulrich, USGS).