Volcanoes are like pressure-release valves on the surface of the Earth, allowing warmer material under the surface to escape from the interior of the planet, according to NASA. That hot, erupted material can be liquid rock (what we know as lava), ash, cinders or gas.
Sometimes lava and ash come out in an explosion, but other times they just flow out gently.
Here in the United States, there are 169 active volcanoes, with 40 of them — or about 25 percent — in Alaska. The most recent volcanic eruption in the United States was at Bogoslof Island in Alaska in 2017.
Most of the country’s other volcanoes are located on the West Coast, ranging from Washington State in the north to Mexico in the south.
And we have volcanoes to thank for Hawaii. The Hawaiian islands actually were formed from volcanic eruptions from the ocean floor millions of years ago that deposited enough material that eventually allowed the islands to emerge from the sea. Cool, huh?
The U.S. Geological Survey still monitors six active volcanoes in Hawaii.
The closest active volcano to Iowa is the Yellowstone Caldera, which is in Yellowstone National Park in the northwest corner of Wyoming. That’s about 1,000 miles, or a 16-hour drive, from Cedar Rapids. There are extinct volcanoes that are closer to us, including the Raton-Clayton volcanic field in northeast New Mexico and the Albuquerque volcanic field, but it was most recently active 70,000 years ago.
The Midwest had volcanoes billions of years ago — the Saint Francis Mountains in Missouri have some volcanic rock about a billion years old — but now the center of the U.S. is so stable and old it does not have eruptions from the Earth’s core, Scholastic reported.
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