Volcano History – How Volcanoes Are Affecting Our Atmosphere
You might not be sure if you want to go to a volcano history lesson, or learn something interesting about volcanoes in general. Of course you probably have been told that the hot lava gives rise to plenty of ash and sulfur dioxide, and the sulfur actually does give some very scary sounding smells, but the sulfur that forms in volcanoes is much more benign than the sulfur from more traditional sources.
And although sulfur dioxide is scary smelling, it actually isn’t too dangerous to inhale, because it’s actually a neutral gas. The primary sources of sulfur dioxide are natural geological processes like volcanoes, but it’s harmless unless it forms large crystals or starts to harden. And while sulfur dioxide is often produced when sulfuric acid makes contact with dry rocks, it can be released through heating of volcanic materials, such as magma, by water, or even by the sun.
It doesn’t make sense for volcanic gases to be so closely associated with sulfur dioxide, but that’s really where we find them together. So what do we mean by volcanic gases? Well, of course sulfur dioxide is released from the eruption of a volcano, but many other gases are released as well, particularly carbon dioxide, water vapor, and nitrogen dioxide.
When volcanic eruptions take place, these gases build up in the atmosphere, and due to the close proximity of the earth and the moon, they all hit the surface of the earth very quickly. It’s generally thought that we get a significant amount of volcanic gas through volcanoes, as the gases are released near the surface and quickly reach the uppermost atmosphere. But there’s actually no solid evidence to support this, and indeed there may be several problems with this idea.
For one thing, during the times that we think volcanic eruptions take place, volcanic gases are not evenly distributed throughout the atmosphere. The concentration is so low that we would not have noticed them, and if these gases were evenly distributed it would have a huge effect on the greenhouse effect, which means that volcanoes do not have any effect on global warming, at least not in the way that we usually assume they do.
Because of this, it is really difficult to say anything for certain, and what we really need is more data to back up the statements we have about volcanic effects on the earth and its climate. Until we understand how these gases react with our atmosphere, and until we understand how volcanic eruptions create a giant blanket of gases over the earth, we really have no idea of what exactly happens, nor what we should expect.
Because of this, whenever we observe some kind of volcanic eruption, we can start to speculate about what kind of effect it has on the atmosphere, and how it affects the weather. Because of this, we now have a better understanding of the composition of the atmosphere, and we can create models based on this knowledge, which help us to predict what will happen, and what should happen next time.
So if you want to learn about volcano history, or learn about volcano history in general, just make sure you don’t look up the images of Mount St. Helens. And if you’re someone who is already intrigued, then go ahead and learn more, because volcanoes can be a really interesting topic to study.