Would you dare to look over the rim of an active volcano? Thousands do, every year, and the attraction is obvious when you think about it. The thrill of danger, the stunning scenery and views, and the sensation of being close to one of Earth’s most powerful forces.
There are over 1,500 potentially active volcanoes located across world – when you think of the scale of the eruptions produced by these majestic and dangerous fiery mountains, that’s pretty scary!
Volcanos not only intrigue volcanologists (scientists that study volcanoes) but they also often strike fear in the people that live in the areas that surround them. Yet there are some people who actively seek out active volcanos on their holidays – volcano tourists, interested in a bit of learning, and a bit of an adrenaline rush too. Here we reveal a handful of truly amazing volcanic facts, and look at some locations where you can experience some of these amazing natural forces for yourself.
What is a volcano?
We all know what a volcano looks like, but what actually is a volcano? Simply put, it’s a mountain where molten rock (magma) and gas have erupted from the surface of the earth. The word ‘volcano’ originates from the name “Vulcan”, the Roman God of Fire. The Earth is covered in vast tectonic plates, and when they rub up against each other, immense pressure is created. Volcanos allow that pressure to be released in eruptions, when magma is forced upwards.
Two of the world’s most well known volcanic eruptions were when Mount Vesuvius in Italy erupted in AD 79, causing the city of Pompeii to be completely buried and destroyed, and Mount Galunggung in Java in 1882, which killed some 4000 people. Pompeii is especially interesting because the ash coated many of the unfortunate residents and their homes, leaving behind fascinating ‘living sculptures’ of Roman times.
Did you know that over 80% of the earth’s surface is volcanic? The majority of volcanoes can be found in what is known as the “Ring of Fire”, an area in the Pacific Ocean that extends from the Americas to parts of Eastern Asia such as Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand, where about 35 eruptions occur each year on average.
When a volcanic eruption occurs, the spectacle is a sight to behold! Millions of tonnes of ash and dust billow from the crater, often causing magnificent sunset effects and purple-pink glows, as a result of light being transmitted through ash in the lower atmosphere – once seen, never forgotten.
You may not realise it, but a product of volcanic eruption may be closer to home than you think as well. If you have a pumice stone in your bathroom, that rock probably came from a volcano (pumice stones are light volcanic rocks that are created when highly pressurised rock is ejected from an erupting volcano), and volcanic ash can also be found in some hand soaps and household cleaners.
In countries that boast volcanic landscapes, volcano tourism is often big business. Despite a large number of the earth’s volcanoes still being active and the dangers associated with them, people are willing to travel from all over the world to experience these amazing (and volatile) natural forces for themselves. But why would someone want to get up close and personal with a volcanic crater, in such a risky environment? Being so close to something so powerful can give you shudders, but there’s also another reason. The soil around volcanos is incredibly fertile, meaning that the surrounding scenery is often completely spectacular. That can be a big draw – consider the Arenal volcano in Costa Rica or Mauna Loa in Hawaii, and it’s not hard to see why volcanoes have become such massive attractions for curious tourists.
If you’ve been lucky enough to receive a Tinggly gift box from someone special, and fancy joining the thousands of tourists that visit the world’s volcanoes each year, then get ready to be happy – we’ve got some great suggestions for experiences you’ll love. Why not discover why stunning Iceland is known as “the Land of Fire and Ice” with an epic tour that takes you through its breathtaking lunar-like volcanic landscape. Explore Ecuador’s picturesque Chimborazo volcano on horseback, or visit a brave little village that sits on the very edge of a volcano in Lanzarote?