Plate Tectonic - Volcanoes (2)
Post Lab 

  • Discovering volcanoes that occur around the world.
  • Identifying volcano parts.
  • crust
  • erupt
  • mantle
  • volcano

Students look at a map and locate volcanoes.

Mt. Fuji in Japan


The fire and flames that are associated with volcanoes have always fascinated children and adults alike. How can the Earth produce such spectacular scenes? Where does it all come from? Do all volcanoes produce fire? These are complex questions that need much more science background than your children have at this grade. However, you can explain that the Earth is restless inside (not in the center of the Earth, but in the outer portion of the crust and mantle) and has to "relieve" itself in some way. Just like people burp, The Earth burps volcanoes because its internal stomach is upset. Some volcanoes have lava that is so hot it looks like flames as it erupts from the volcano. The "fire" is actually molten rock, or magma.

All volcanoes do not create lava flows. Some produce finely broken up rocks or ash. This ash sometimes mixes with melted ice, resulting in large mudflows. This happened when Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980.

Volcanoes do not erupt randomly on the Earth's surface. If you look at a map, you can generally see a pattern. For example in the Pacific Ocean region, volcanoes seem to be along the coastal areas from the west coast of North and South America to the east coast of Asia. This area is referred to as the "Ring of Fire." Students will later understand that these volcanoes help to define plate boundaries. The Ring of Fire, for example, is a zone of convergent plate boundaries, where two plates come together. In this setting, one plate sinks into the Earth, causing much magma, and hence volcanoes, to form.

  1. Discuss the following volcanoes, each of which represents a point along the "Ring of Fire." Show the general location of these volcanoes on a world map, or use the map and images on the following pages. Explain that along the edge of the Pacific Ocean there are many active volcanoes--hence the name "Ring of Fire."

    Mt. St. Helens, Washington - erupted in 1980 in western Washington, presently is building up a lava dome

    Mt. Fuji, Japan - has not erupted violently in centuries, it is sleeping until it erupts one day

    Mt. St. Augustine, Alaska - recently erupted in 1989 in a violent explosion, located along one of the Aleutian islands in southern Alaska

Red dots show active volcanoes throughout the world

  1. Using the dot to dot sheet that follows, have the students color in the volcano. You may want them to label the outside parts of the volcano, using the words that they discovered in lab. In this volcano there is gas, ash, and lava. Use the physiographic relief globe to show students that the magma comes from the upper mantle and crust.
  2. Instruct the students to imagine that their drawing is one of the volcanoes in the "Ring of Fire." Have students make a circle (= Ring of Fire) sitting on the floor. Have them randomly "erupt." Discuss that this situation is similar to what is happening along the "Ring of Fire".

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