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Volcanoes

Super Eruptions

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.

Resources from the Geological Society

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Volcanoes Factsheet

What is a volcano? Where are they and why are they there? Download our fact sheet, produced in 2012 for a broad general audience, for an overview of significant eruptions and the volcanic products that can cause such devastation.
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Online interactive resource: Plate Tectonics

Find out about the structure of the Earth's tectonic plates, the different types of plate boundaries and the pioneers of plate tectonics using our interactive online module designed for Key Stage 4-5 students and teachers.
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Papers & Reports: Flood basalts & super-eruptions

Papers and reports on flood basalts, mantle plumes and mass extinctions, and super-eruptions.
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Volcanoes, molten magma… and a nice cup of tea!

Throughout Earth’s turbulent geological history, volcanoes have relentlessly erupted vast quantities of molten rock onto the Earth’s surface. Of the 1500 or so ‘active’ volcanoes around the world today, about 60 erupt each year and there are around 20 currently in eruption at any one time. But with its upper 2900km essentially solid, how does the Earth produce so much molten rock, where does it all come from and why are volcanoes confined to certain well-defined zones?

Download an article published in School Science Review (December 2012) by Pete Loader to find out more.

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Articles & blog posts

Volcanism, impacts and mass extinctions (Geoscientist, Nov 2012)

Eyjafjallajökull and Climate Change (Geoscientist, April 2011)

Earth's hottest place (Geoscientist, Feb 2010)

Volcanoes, dust, and storms (Geoscientist, June 2010)

Of all places, why here? (Geoscientist, March 2009)

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Geology for Society: Hazards and Risk

Find out about geological hazards in the UK and worldwide, and the importance of communicating the uncertainties involved, in our resource aimed at policy and decision-makers as well as the wider public.

100 Geosites

100 Great Geosites: Fire & Ice

The UK and Ireland enjoy low tectonic activity now, but we have had an explosive history. Explore locations representing some of the most dramatic events in our geological past, from our list of 100 great geological sites.
Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans: Volcanoes

Earth science classroom activities:

Classroom Volcano (KS2) | Igneous Rocks | Plate Tectonics

Resources from other organisations

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Discovering Geology: Resources from the BGS

Education resources from the British Geological Survey for schools and colleges, lifelong learners or anyone interested in the Earth. Topics include geological hazards, time, climate change and the geology of Britain. Install a seismometer in your school to detect earthquakes or explore UK geology with Minecraft.
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USGS: Volcanic Hazards

Teaching resources on volcanoes and a live map of US Volcanoes from the US Geological Survey.