Why Do People Live Near Volcanoes?

Photo by Carsten Peter

Perched above the lighted city of Catania, Italy, Mount Etna hurls a fountain of fire skyward as rivers of lava spill down its flanks. In spite of its dazzling displays, Mount Etna is a relatively safe volcano with rare, compact eruptions and slow-flowing lava that gives people a chance to escape. - National Geographic -  {More Pics here!}

Lots of people live near a volcano.  As for me, I live a relatively safe distance from Mt. St. Helens, but this region was severely affected by the eruption in 1980.  I recently returned there, and it while it seems safe now, the devastation still shows.  But The Geography Site cites four good reasons why society loves a lava-spewing mountain in their backyard.

Geothermal energy, minerals, fertile soil, and tourism.  That last one is interesting, and many tourist attractions involve volcanic activity.  And about that geothermal energy?

Countries such as Iceland make extensive use of geothermal power, with approximately two thirds of Iceland's electricity coming from steam powered turbines. New Zealand and to a lesser extent, Japan, also make effective use of geothermal energy.

It makes sense that we'd be so close to that which can give us something powerful, while risking so much at the same time.  Volcanoes rock.

Link | Photo: Wikimedia

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