The Hazards and Beneficial Effects of Volcanic Eruptions

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Volcanic eruptions are not only hazardous but they also have beneficial effects to man, animals and plants.

Volcanoes are one of the best scenes to see around the world but the serenity and beauty of the volcano could be as hazardous too. Many volcanic eruptions had caused the loss of thousands of lives and millions and millions worth of properties. But along with the hazards that it brings to man are the beneficial effects that people could also utilize.

Volcanic eruptions are not only destructive; they also have beneficial effects. Volcanic eruptions cause hazards or dangers to people, animals and plants around the volcano. Immediate danger comes from the lava that flows from the volcanic eruption. This lava flow burns everything in its path and could also endanger lives of people. Lava covered land could stay unproductive for years until the pyroclastic materials are weathered.

Lava flow / Pixabay

Volcanic eruptions cause lava flow, volcanic bombs or large rocks thrown from the volcanic eruptions, ash and dust, poisonous gases and also earthquakes, and tsunamis. What’s worse is that volcanic eruptions could have long term effects on people and their properties. Once a place has been covered by volcanic ashes, the place would be as good as a desert. Most plants cannot thrive in an ash-covered land and what’s worse; it could take long years before the land could be productive again.

Although volcanic eruptions cause problems to people, they also have beneficial effects. Volcanic ash makes the soil around the volcano very fertile which is also very productive for farmers. This may not be instant but it happens after the volcanic ash is weathered. The place around the volcano could be a very good place for planting most kinds of vegetation.

Volcanic eruptions could also be utilized to provide for electricity. The heat that the erupted volcano produces could be used to generate electricity which industries could use. Hot springs that originate from volcanoes could also be used as medicinal purposes.

Volcanic eruptions bring out rocks that add to the rocks on the earth’s surface. This is good because rocks are very useful to man especially for construction materials. The rocks from volcanoes are often good quality rocks. Scientists can use the materials from volcanic eruptions to study more about the earth’s interior.

It is important for people to take precautionary measures when volcanic eruptions occur because of the dangers that they pose. Those living near active volcanoes must always bear in mind that volcanoes are sometimes unpredictable and they should always take precautions because one time or another, the volcano near them will have the possibility to erupt.

Mt. St. Helens Volcano - After the Volcano

It has now been 35 years since the volcanic eruption of Mt. St. Helens in Washington State. During the morning of May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens erupted and was one of the worst and most explosive volcanic eruptions in United States history.

The entire area around the volcano was buried in feet of volcanic ash, all trees had been knocked down and Spirit Lake disappeared under tons of volcanic ash and debris. In fact, some said it looked like the surface of the moon, an area that was once a beautiful forest and lake.

It has now been 35 years since Mt. St. Helens erupted and Mother Nature has restored the area around the volcano amazingly. Since the volcanic eruption, runoff has occurred in the same areas and created a new Spirit Lake. Spirit Lake today is more shallow and wider than the original lake, but it is full of aquatic life.

There are of course many tree trunks still on the ground, but the forest has been growing back at an amazing rate. With many of the century old trees being blown down, this opened the forest floor to all kinds of new plants to take hold along with animals. Some of the plants today include prairie lupine, famous for their purple flowers, fireweed and pearly everlasting and alder shrubs.

The conifer forests have not come back, but other trees like alder trees and the Sitka willow have started growing in the areas near streams and creeks.

The soil is still not good for growing many other types of plants since volcanic ash lacks certain minerals and does not have nitrogen. The plants that are coming back are those plants that could draw the nitrogen from the air and then store it in their roots, called nitrogen fixation


Posted on Jan 3, 2012
James R. Coffey
Posted on Nov 14, 2010