Etna is a volcano


A volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object, such as Earth, that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface. Earth's volcanoes occur because its crust is broken into 17 major, rigid tectonic plates that float on a hotter, softer layer in its mantle. Therefore, on Earth, volcanoes are generally found where tectonic plates are diverging or converging. For example, a mid-oceanic ridge, such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, has volcanoes caused by divergent tectonic plates pulling apart; the Pacific Ring of Fire has volcanoes caused by convergent tectonic plates coming together. Volcanoes can also form where there is stretching and thinning of the crust's interior plates[clarify], e.g., in the East African Rift and the Wells Gray-Clearwater volcanic field and Rio Grande Rift in North America. This type of volcanism falls under the umbrella of "plate hypothesis" volcanism. Volcanism away from plate boundaries has also been explained as mantle plumes. These so-called "hotspots", for example Hawaii, are postulated to arise from upwelling diapirs with magma from the core–mantle boundary, 3,000 km deep in the Earth. Volcanoes are usually not created where two tectonic plates slide past one another. Erupting volcanoes can pose many hazards, not only in the immediate vicinity of the eruption. One such hazard is that volcanic ash can be a threat to aircraft, in particular those with jet engines where ash particles can be melted by the high operating temperature; the melted particles then adhere to the turbine blades and alter their shape, disrupting the operation of the turbine. Large eruptions can affect temperature as ash and droplets of sulfuric acid obscure the sun and cool the Earth's lower atmosphere (or troposphere); however, they also absorb heat radiated up from the Earth, thereby warming the upper atmosphere (or stratosphere). Historically, so-called volcanic winters have caused catastrophic famines. The word volcano is derived from the name of Vulcano, a volcanic island in the Aeolian Islands of Italy whose name in turn comes from Vulcan, the god of fire in Roman mythology. The study of volcanoes is called volcanology, sometimes spelled vulcanology.

Volcano scheme
1. Magma chamber 2. Bedrock 3. Conduit (pipe) 4. Base 5. Sill 6. Branch pipe 7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano 10. Throat     11. Parasitic cone 12. Lava flow 13. Vent 14. Crater 15. Ash cloud  

By MesserWoland [GFDLCC-BY-SA-3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Divergent plate boundaries

At the mid-oceanic ridges, two tectonic plates diverge from one another as new oceanic crust is formed by the cooling and solidifying of hot molten rock. Because the crust is very thin at these ridges due to the pull of the tectonic plates, the release of pressure leads to adiabatic expansion and the partial melting of the mantle, causing volcanism and creating new oceanic crust. Most divergent plate boundaries are at the bottom of the oceans; therefore, most volcanic activity is submarine, forming new seafloor. Black smokers (also known as deep sea vents) are evidence of this kind of volcanic activity. Where the mid-oceanic ridge is above sea-level, volcanic islands are formed, for example, Iceland.

Convergent plate boundaries

Subduction zones are places where two plates, usually an oceanic plate and a continental plate, collide. In this case, the oceanic plate subducts, or submerges under the continental plate forming a deep ocean trench just offshore. In a process called flux melting, water released from the subducting plate lowers the melting temperature of the overlying mantle wedge, creating magma. This magma tends to be very viscous due to its high silica content, so it often does not reach the surface but cools at depth. When it does reach the surface, a volcano is formed. Typical examples of this kind of volcano are Mount Etna and the volcanoes in the Pacific Ring of Fire.


"Hotspots" is the name given to volcanic areas believed to be formed by mantle plumes, which are hypothesized to be columns of hot material rising from the core-mantle boundary in a fixed space that causes large-volume melting. Because tectonic plates move across them, each volcano becomes dormant and is eventually reformed as the plate advances over the postulated plume. The Hawaiian Islands have been suggested to have been formed in such a manner, as well as the Snake River Plain, with the Yellowstone Caldera being the part of the North American plate currently above the hot spot. This theory is currently under criticism, however

Volcanic features

The most common perception of a volcano is of a conical mountain, spewing lava and poisonous gases from a crater at its summit; however, this describes just one of the many types of volcano. The features of volcanoes are much more complicated and their structure and behavior depends on a number of factors. Some volcanoes have rugged peaks formed by lava domes rather than a summit crater while others have landscape features such as massive plateaus. Vents that issue volcanic material (including lava and ash) and gases (mainly steam and magmatic gases) can develop anywhere on the landform and may give rise to smaller cones such as Puʻu ʻŌʻō on a flank of Hawaii's Kīlauea. Other types of volcano include cryovolcanoes (or ice volcanoes), particularly on some moons of Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune; and mud volcanoes, which are formations often not associated with known magmatic activity. Active mud volcanoes tend to involve temperatures much lower than those of igneous volcanoes except when the mud volcano is actually a vent of an igneous volcano. 

A generic volcano is formed by: 

  • a magma chamber, ie the underground tank which is present in the magma that feeds the volcano.

  • a chimney or duct main volcanic magma transit place from magma chamber to the surface

  • a crater or mouth summit, where flows the main duct.

  • of the side slits, longitudinal fractures on the side of the volcano, caused by magma pressure. They allow the spillage of lava in the form of fissure eruption.

The fireplace is not necessarily located geographically on the perpendicular of the fault from which it flows into the magma, since the duct can also be cross-path (in fact, usually it is, except that in the hot points), a volcano may be the chimney of a fault It located several kilometers away. This is the case of Vesuvius, whose fault passes about 40 km further east. It is defined volcanic cone in the part of the volcano surface formed by the building that takes the form of a more or less intact cone on top of which opens a main crater. The volcanic cone can of course vary in shape depending on the composition of the solidified magma that constitutes it, and the amount of leaked material from the reservoir of magma below. 



How has formed the Etna