View of an eruption of Tungurahua Volcano at dusk with lava flows, Ecuador

Did you know the word volcano comes from the Roman name Vulcan? Vulcan was the Roman god of fire. Look at the photo. Why do you think ancient Romans named volcanoes after Vulcan?

What is a volcano?

A volcano is a mountain that builds up around an opening in Earth’s crust. Magma is melted rock from parts of the mantel and crust. This melted rock rises through the opening. When magma flows onto land, it is called lava. Lava can flow slowly over land or bubble up around the volcanoes opening. Some volcanoes explode, or erupt, with more rocks and ash than lava.

Volcanologist sampling lava from a lava flow in Hawaii 

Do scientists study volcanos? 

Yes! Volcanologists are scientists who study how and why volcanoes erupt. They monitor active volcanoes and research how volcanic eruptions affect living things. Volcanologists predict when a volcano might erupt. This gives people who live close to volcanoes time to evacuate safely.  

What Do You Think? Would you like to be a volcanologist? Why? 

Reading Response Click on this link to respond to your reading. Print out the response page or upload it to your classroom site. 

What Do You Think? 

Photo Credit: (t)Sebastián Crespo Photography/Getty Images, (b)R.L. Christiansen/USGS