In this article, I shall be writing about the positive and negative effects of volcanoes; every year there are tens of volcanic eruptions around the world and this affects humans, animals, plants, and every other thing in the earth’s ecosystem, therefore the impact of volcanoes can’t be overlooked.
A volcano is a geophysical and geochemical phenomenon that involves a violent rupture in the surface of a planet caused by the movement of tectonic plates within the planet’s crust or along ocean floors, this eruption causes hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface of the planet.
The term volcano is derived from the name of an ancient Roman god of fire; who bore the Latin name ‘Vulcan‘ and in this article, I shall be writing about the 23 positive and negative effects of volcanoes.
Table of Contents
23 Positive and Negative Effects of Volcanoes
There are many positive and negative effects of volcanoes on the environment, however, the effects of volcanic eruptions and volcanoes can be classified into two major types, they are:
- Negative effects of volcanoes
- Positive effects of volcanoes
17 Negative Effects of Volcanoes
These are the negative effects of volcanoes/volcanic eruptions on the environment:
Loss of Habitats
This is one of the major effects when there is a volcanic eruption, the heat from the eruption and the hot lava cause the destruction of the natural habitat of the species living around the area as it kills every living thing nearby.
The hot lava that flows out of the volcano flows for a long distance before cooling down to form solid rocks thereby taking over the natural habitat of some species and killing most of them in the process.
Causes Death to Wildlife
Volcanoes cause death to wildlife as floating lava and heat from volcanic eruptions kill many animals and plants whenever a volcanic eruption occurs, the ash that rises from the fire also leads to death for the animals around the area who inhale the poisonous gases it contains.
The biggest mass death of animals caused by a volcano was recorded when the Mount St. Helen volcano erupted in 1980 and killed an estimated total of 24,000 animals; over 45 percent of the animals that were killed were hares and about 25 percent were deers.
Causes Air Pollution
Air pollution is one of the major ways volcanoes and volcanic eruptions affect the environment; whenever there is an eruption, large amounts of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen, argon, methane, hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid, carbon monoxide, ash, and aerosols( tiny powder-like particles) are released into the atmosphere.
These substances contaminate the air and make it difficult for animals and humans to breathe as only a small quantity of oxygen will be in the atmosphere and some of the gases released are poisonous; all these factors contribute to the pollution of the air; air pollution is one of the biggest environmental problems in the world now.
Every year an estimated 271 million tons of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere, which is over 67.75 trillion moles of carbon dioxide molecules.
When volcanoes erupt, hot lava flows out of them, the fast-flowing lava can kill people especially those on its part. The gases and ash from volcanoes make the air unfit or poisonous to breathe thereby causing humans to choke to death, it can also kill humans through forest fires.
The biggest recorded death toll caused by a single volcano erupting is the volcano that erupted in Tambora, Indonesia, in 1815, killing around 92,000 people.
Sudden Weather Changes
Volcanoes; especially the major ones cause drastic and unexpected changes in the weather, they can cause rain, temporary hotness, thunder, lightning and can also have long-term effects on the climate of the area where they occur.
Can Cause Land Slides
Landslides are one of the major effects of volcanoes on the environment; when intense volcanic eruptions occur, they have the capability of causing landslides to occur in the area especially in areas where the ground has high slopes or many slopes.
There is a special kind of landslides that occur only on the slope of volcanos called Lahars; these landslides are powerful and don’t necessarily need a volcanic eruption to occur but can be set off by rainwater.
In areas where there are volcanoes, whether active ones or not; most people are afraid to set up businesses in the area, also when a volcanic eruption occurs it destroys business establishments and affects many more others.
Causes Deforestation Through Forest fires
When volcanoes erupt the flowing hot lava sets fire to the forest areas around it, this fire if not controlled especially during the dry season can burn down a large expanse of forest thereby increasing the rate of deforestation.
Causes Food Scarcity
The hot lava that flows from volcanoes destroy farmlands thereby reducing food production which results in food scarcity, also after an eruption occurs, the plains around the volcano become very fertile and this attracts some farmers who come and set up their farms in the area only to get devastated at another occurrence.
Can Cause Extinction of Some Species
This is one of the dangerous effects of volcanoes, some of the species in the world are critically endangered and can be located only in a relatively small expanse of land. When hazards like volcanic eruptions occur in such areas, these species are very likely to go extinct.
This is one of the biggest effects of volcanoes, the heat from the volcano and the hot lava damages or destroys everything on its part; whenever volcanic eruptions occur they cause damage to both private and public properties.
Causes Scarcity of Natural Resources
The lava from an erupted volcano causes forest fire which burns down the trees from which timber, paper. fruits and many other natural resources are gotten from, it also results in the death of wildlife animals, and this results also to the scarcity of bushmeat which is part of the natural resources on the earth.
The gases and ash from volcanoes can cause som many diseases including; lung cancer, different types of long-inflammatory diseases, and different kinds of eye problems among many other diseases which affect humans and animals too, it also causes some minor problems like causing itchy-noses.
Causes Water Pollution
One of the bizarre effects of volcanoes is that the ash and hot lava that emerge after an eruption settles on enter into water bodies like; streams, ponds, lakes, rivers, springs, etc. and pollute them; making them unfit for use by humans and animals alike.
Depletes Ozone Layer
The depletion of the ozone layer is one of the effects of volcanoes although they are responsible for about 2 percent of the ozone layer depletion.
When volcanoes erupt some gases escape into the stratosphere, these gases are not directly responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer but the gases that are made up of chlorine compounds undergo go chain reactions to release radicals of chlorine which then reacts with the ozone and destroys it.
Causes Land Pollution Through Acid Rain
When there is a volcanic eruption, so many gases escape from the volcano including sulphur dioxide which gets washed down by rainwater. When the rain washes down sulphur oxide the rain becomes acidic because sulphur oxide is an acid so this causes acid rain which makes the soil unhealthy for plant growth thereby causing land pollution.
Can Cause Tsunamis
Volcanoes can cause tsunamis, especially underwater volcanoes also known as submarine tsunamis; when underwater volcanoes erupt they displace large volumes of water and this sends wave ripples around the water bodies which may build up to cause tsunamis.
Land volcanoes can also cause tsunamis if they are located near water; when such volcanoes erupt, particles of rocks and large quantities of fast-flowing lava may get into the water bodies, these foreign materials displace the water and in the course of doing so send waves around the water body and this can cause a tsunami.
Can Cause Earthquakes
Some earthquakes occur as a result of the effects of volcanoes, such earthquakes are known as volcano-tectonic earthquakes; they are caused by movements and expansion of magmas beneath the earth’s surface, these movements cause pressure changes as they move about and melt more rocks; at some point, they cause the rocks to move or crash and this is exactly what causes the earthquakes.
6 Positive Effects of Volcanoes
These are the positive effects of volcanoes/volcanic eruptions on the environment:
One of the surprising effects of volcanoes is that they reduce heat and cool down the planet; this is because volcanic eruptions shoot up much of their gases and send the heat underground into the stratosphere thereby effectively cooling the biosphere.
The volcano eruption that occurred in Tambora, Indonesia, in 1815 is a good reference, it so much cooled the world to the extent that in some parts of the world, that year is dubbed ‘the year without summer’.
Increases Soil Fertility
This is one of the positive effects of volcanoes, despite the environmental pollution caused by volcanoes the role it plays in increasing soil fertility can’t be overlooked; when there is a volcanic eruption a lot of ashes are pushed into the atmosphere, this ashes when the finally settle down tremendously improve the fertility of the soil around the area.
Creates Safe Habitat for Some Animals
This is one of the good effects of volcanoes when there is a volcanic eruption the flowing lava later cools up to form solid rocks and this creates steep and dangerous slopes; the mount dwelling animals then build their nests and live high up the slopes where they will be out of reach for many predators and dangerous for humans.
Whenever there is a volcanic eruption, so many people would love to go sightseeing in the area, therefore the volcano becomes a source or an object of tourist attraction that is of benefit to the host region or country.
Source of Energy
Volcanoes serve as a source of geothermal energy as electrical energy can be generated from geothermal energy in areas where magma lies close to the surface and such areas can be found around volcanos; this helps in increasing the use of renewable energy.
This is one of the effects of volcanoes on the environment although it is rarely mentioned, when there is a volcanic eruption the vibration from the volcano makes the soil on the grounds in and around the area become looser thus helping increase the infiltration as water can easily penetrate such soil.
This is a comprehensive article about the positive and negative effects of volcanoes on the environment, it is good to note that some of these effects like the tectonic earthquakes do not need a volcanic eruption to occur but a volcano.
There are only 23 major positive and negative effects of volcanoes and volcanic eruptions; as regards the way it affects the environment, wildlife, and humanity.
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