Sunday, November 19, 2006

Volcanic activity

A trendy way of classifying magmatic volcanoes goes by their occurrence of eruption, with those that erupt regularly called active, those that have erupted in historical times but are now quiet called latent, and those that have not erupted in historical times called extinct. However, these popular classifications vanished in particular are practically meaningless to scientists. They use classifications which refer to a particular volcano's formative and eruptive processes and ensuing shapes, which was explained above.
There is no actual consensus among volcanologists on how to define an "active" volcano. The natural life of a volcano can vary from months to several million years, making such a distinction sometimes worthless when compared to the life spans of humans or even civilizations. For example, many of Earth's volcanoes have erupted dozens of times in the past few thousand years but are not at present showing signs of eruption. Given the long lifespan of such volcanoes, they are very vigorous. By our life spans, however, they are not. Complicating the definition are volcanoes that become restless but do not actually erupt.

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