Q:

How often do volcanoes erupt?

A:

Quick Answer

Some volcanoes erupt often and some are inactive for long periods of time. The amount of time between volcanic eruptions depends on the volcano itself, according to the Department of Geosciences at Oregon State University.

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Full Answer

Three things that can trigger a volcanic eruption are magma buoyancy, pressure from gases in the magma and magma refilling the magma chamber. When rock melts, it produces magma that is lighter than the rock around it. This causes buoyancy that makes the magma rise to the surface and the volcano to erupt. Magma contains water, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide that cause bubbles in the magma, making the magma partially molten. This causes the volcano to erupt explosively. When new magma enters a chamber already filled to capacity with old magma, it pushes the magma to the top and the volcano erupts.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What causes volcanoes to erupt?

    A:

    A volcanic eruption is caused by the injection of magma into a full magma chamber, the buoyancy of magma and the pressure exerted by the gases in the magma. The volcano simply acts as an opening through which magma and dissolved gases are discharged.

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  • Q:

    How do cinder-cone volcanoes erupt?

    A:

    Cinder-cone volcanoes, properly called scoria volcanoes, erupt when expanding gas bubbles drive lava to the volcano's surface. Because of this pressure, the lava fountains are usually very high and vertical. By the time the erupted material lands, it is already cool.

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  • Q:

    Why are there volcanoes?

    A:

    Volcanic vents allow the Earth to release built up gases from the heat and pressure emanating from its core. Magma rises towards the surface, and as the pressure builds the magma seeks outlets through which to flow. The higher the pressure build-up, the greater the volcanic explosion.

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  • Q:

    Are all volcanoes the same?

    A:

    No two volcanoes are exactly the same, as they all have differences in dimensions of their mountains and craters, as well as their relative frequency and type of eruption. Volcanoes come in cinder cone, shield and stratovolcano varieties.

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