View from Frutillar, southern Chile, showing volcanic lightnings and lava spewed from the Calbuco volcano on April 23, 2015. Chile's Calbuco volcano erupted on Wednesday, spewing a giant funnel of ash high into the sky near the southern port city of Puerto Montt and triggering a red alert. Authorities ordered an evacuation for a 10-kilometer (six-mile) radius around the volcano, which is the second in southern Chile to have a substantial eruption since March 3, when the Villarrica volcano emitted a brief but fiery burst of ash and lava. AFP PHOTO/MARTIN BERNETTI (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)
Volcanoes look no different from any other mountain most days of the year, but on occasion these formidable ruptures give way to fiery explosions of molten lava, rock, ash, and gasses that shoot out from the Earth’s core.
These forces of nature can invoke as much terror as awe or reverence. Over 50 eruptions happen a year; some dramatic, some harmless.
There are about 500 volcanoes in the world. Most of the eruptions occur in “hotspots” (like Hawaii) or along the tectonic plates that line the Pacific Rim, nicknamed the “Ring of Fire.”
Smoke, ash, and rock avalanches are actually more dangerous than slow-moving lava.
Volcanoes, though dangerous and destructive, are a part of the Earth’s life cycle, creating land and fertile soil, and helping cool the planet.