A volcano is a rupture in the Earth’s crust which allows magma/ash/gases to escape from beneath the surface. When magma reaches the surface of the Earth, it is called lava.
Most volcanoes occur along or near the margins of tectonic plates, where plates move away from each other or collide. We have a number of resources relating to volcanoes, available from the links below and to the right. Find out about the worldwide distribution of volcanoes; historic volcanic events; and the products, prediction and hazards associated with volcanoes.
Watch the presentations from our Shell London Lecture series, all related to volcanoes. To view more of our other presentations visit our YouTube channel.
What is a volcano? Where are they? Why are they there? What comes out of volcanoes? Can we predict when they erupt? What were the most significant historical eruptions?
Download the volcano fact sheet
Volcanism, impacts and mass extinctions
Sarah interviews a group of scientists at a multidisciplinary conference examining the causes and effects of mass extinctions - are we heading for another?
Papers and Reports
Volcanoes, molten magma, … and a nice cup of tea!
An article published in School Science Review (December 2012) by Pete Loader.
Flood basalts, mantle plumes and mass extinctions
A report by Steve Self and Mike Rampino, with additional information on the crust and lithosphere.
A report on super-eruptions, global effects and future threats from a Geological Society Working Group.
Visit our online resource on plate tectonics, aimed at students aged 14 - 16.
See the distribution of volcanoes on a map, learn how the theory of plate tectonics has developed, what happens at different plate margins, and the tectonic history of the UK.
Ask a Geologist!
If you have a question about volcanoes, try our Ask a Geologist service! All you have to do is send an email to email@example.com stating your question and we will try to find an answer among our 10,000-strong Fellowship.