Benefits and Problems of Volcanoes

Benefits and Problems of Volcanoes

Fertile volcanic soil Kenya. Image credit tishaferral.com

Fertile volcanic soil Kenya. Image credit tishaferral.com

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Benefits and Problems of Volcanoes

Benefits of volcanoes to humans

  • They eject lava and ash which in turn produce very fertile soils which boost agriculture activities.
  • Volcanoes and areas near them can be used to produce geothermal energy which can be fed into electrical grids and boost the energy supplies of the affected regions and countries.
  • Volcanic materials sometimes contain precious minerals such asĀ Opals and obsidian.
  • They act as tourist attractions and thus provide a livelihood and foreign currency to people living near them.
  • They may form habitable islands for people to live for example the Hawaii islands in the Pacific ocean are a result of volcanic activity.
  • Hardened volcanic ash can also be used to make lightweight concrete for building houses and other infrastructure installations.
  • Produce essential condensation nuclei.
  • They produce pumice stones that are used as abrasives.
  • Igneous rocks that are formed can be used as building materials.
  • Calderas may form lakes which can provide people with a livelihood in the fishing industry as well as provide water for home and industrial use.

Problems caused by volcanoes.

  • They can cause loss of life especially when they erupt unexpectedly as in the destruction of Pompeii
  • Can cause destruction to crops when they erupt and via lava flow as recently happened in Hawaii.
  • Destruction of ecosystems and destroys biodiversity.
  • They can cause destruction to infrastructure such as homes, roads, towns.
  • Can cause acid rain to fall.
  • They may cause natural fires.
  • Can cause lahars, special hot mud flows which when set have the consistency of concrete.
  • Can cause tsunamis especially when they happen near islands.
  • Displace large populations of people

Mitigating the problems of volcanoes

Although volcanic eruptions cannot be prevented their effects can be mitigated to some extent.

  • Quick well trained rescue operations to affected areas.
  • Effective media operations to quickly disseminate information whenever volcanic activity is predicted or expected.
  • Diverting lava flows using barriers and explosives although these tend to be highly ineffective.
  • Install gas detectors near volcanoes to detect non-violent eruptions that might lead to poisonous gases being dispersed to populated areas.
  • Clearing tephra (ash) from roofs so that it will not accumulate and cause houses/buildings to collapse.
  • Evacuation from affected areas prior to eruptions and lahar flows and tsunamis.
  • Monitoring volcanoes using the latest seismic technology so as to predict likely eruptions and changes in cycles and activity.

To access more topics go the Geography Notes page.

About the Author:

He holds an Honours in Accountancy degree from the University of Zimbabwe. He is passionate about technology and its practical application in today's world.
%d bloggers like this: