The other day I was talking to a few of my high school students about one of my all-time favorite topics: volcanoes! Volcanoes are fascinating natural wonders that are not talked about enough. Usually, when people talk about volcanoes they think of two things, Mount Vesuvius (famous for its destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum) and fiery danger!
There’s much literature out there regarding the effects volcanoes have had on important historical events such as the Conquest of Constantinople, the downfall of the Minoan Civilization, and the infamous “Year Without a Summer” that affected much of the Western Hemisphere. All of these events bring a dour meaning; essentially volcanoes are an over-boiling pot of spaghetti sauce that you neglected on the stove – AKA a bad time.
What they seldom get credit for is assisting in the creation of our planet. Most of the water that we have both in the liquid form and in the atmosphere is all thanks to the gases released by volcanoes. Additionally, volcanoes are nature’s air conditioners. Throughout the centuries, volcanoes have released internal heat and pressure from the Earth making the climate cooler – in some cases, rather significantly.
It’s understandable why volcanoes inspired fabulous legends and struck observers with both awe and terror.