A volcano is an opening or rupture in the earth’s surface that allows magma (hot liquid and semi-liquid rock), volcanic ash and gases to escape. They are generally found where tectonic plates come together or separate but they can also occur in the middle of plates due to volcanic hotspots. A volcanic eruption is when lava and gas are released from a volcano—sometimes explosively. The most dangerous type of eruption is called a 'glowing avalanche' which is when freshly erupted magma flows down the sides of a volcano. They can travel quickly and reach temperatures of up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Other hazards include ash fall, and lahars (mud or debris flows). Volcanoes often cause population displacement and food shortages.
Do you know how to prepare for a volcanic eruption?
Learn your volcano risks and warning signs and look out for unusual physical changes around volcanoes, such as increased ash fall or vegetation drying up. Learn and participate in early warning systems and develop plans for both evacuating and sheltering in place. Be aware of secondary hazards such as landslides, lahars (mudflows), ash and thunderstorms.
Protect your home from volcanic ash and cover water sources if time allows. Avoid driving during and after ash fall when visibility can be very low and roads are slippery. Protect your lungs and eyes by wearing protective gear such as goggles and masks. Pay particular attention to vulnerable people and support them to evacuate or shelter in place.
Follow official instructions from local authorities on whether to evacuate or take shelter. If you get warning prior to ash fall, return home from school or work and shelter in place. If the ash fall is heavy, do not remain in a building that has a low-pitched or flat roof. Make sure you have additional supplies such as dust masks, eye protection, cleaning supplies, a flashlight and an evacuation bag to hand. Collect and store clean water and clean up outside carefully when it is declared safe to do so.