Volcano risk fears rise after fatal eruption

Danger: Twenty-three people were rescued from White Island. © Michael Schade

Are deadly volcanos becoming more frequent? An active volcano on New Zealand’s White Island has exploded. Some scientists think this could be the first of many more terrible eruptions.

What’s happening

It was a serene Monday morning on the White Island volcano, with blue skies and shining seas.

Minutes later, the calm was disturbed by a colossal bang. Clouds of smoke filled the sky.

White Island had erupted, killing and injuring many of the tourists visiting New Zealand’s most active volcano.

Find out more

Eruptions of this size are not common, but not unheard of.

In June 2018, Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala erupted, leaving 190 people dead. Last year also saw Kilauea volcano in Hawaii explode, forcing mass evacuations.

A 2017 study by Geology magazine suggested there was a link between melting glaciers and ice caps and the number of erupting volcanoes increasing. As global warming increases, perhaps we should prepare ourselves for a new spate of eruptions.

Is volcanic activity increasing? If so, should we be worried about it?

Some say…

Yes. Enormous eruptions could change the world in ways we are not prepared for. Ancient explosions such as the Ilopango volcano in El Salvador shot sulfur gases into the sky, which reflected sunlight away from Earth and began severe global cooling. Just one major eruption could do vast damage, and climate change makes them even more likely.

Others think…

No. Professor of Volcanology Clive Oppenheimer told The Telegraph there has not been an increase in volcanic activity. “There have been quite a few eruptions in the news lately, so people question whether there’s an increase…and this isn’t really the case,” he said. “Eruptions are happening all the time; some make the news headlines and others don’t.”

You Decide

  1. Would you visit a volcano?

Activities

  1. Draw a picture and label it to show how a volcano erupts.

Some People Say...

“People never believe in volcanoes until the lava actually overtakes them.”

George Santayana (1863-1952), Spanish-American philosopher

What do you think?

Word Watch

Serene
Calm.
Colossal
Very big.
Erupted
When a volcano explodes, shooting out lava and smoke.
Tourists
A person who travels to visit a place in a different city or country.
Spate
A lot of things in quick succession.
Volcanology
The study of volcanoes.
Popular
Liked by many people.
Plumes
A long cloud.
Disrupted
Caused problems for.
Craters
The round opening.
Unpredictable
When you cannot guess what is going to happen.

Subjects

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