Volcanic Eruption Signals Help (page 2)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Sep 4, 2011

Geothermal Energy

When a volcano finally stops its activity, the igneous rock in the old magma chamber stays hot for a very long time. Some scientists think maybe even another million years. Groundwater that seeps into the hot rock gets heated and rises to the surface through a fault or fissure where it becomes a thermal spring . The temperatures of these springs can get as high as the boiling point of water. The United States has over 1000 thermal springs with even more found throughout the rest of the world.

This is the up side to volcanic activity. The thermal energy rising from deep in the mantle can be channeled for useful means. Reykjavik, Iceland, in the path of the Mid-Atlantic rift, gets its hot water from volcanic springs running just below the surface and heated from below by hot magma. The United States, Iceland, Russia, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, and Italy are a few of the countries that tap geothermal steam energy from deeply drilled holes in volcanic rocks to produce electricity for their cities.

Additionally, since ancient times humans have enjoyed the relaxation and appreciated the health benefits of bathing in hot springs. Water temperatures in thermal springs are often hot enough to dissolve minerals from the surrounding rocks. These geothermal fed springs often have high levels of leached minerals that have been used since Roman times for their healing properties.

So, even though volcanoes can be extremely destructive and dangerous, they also provide geothermal energy, soil carbon enrichment, and elemental minerals to surface waters. If we just remember to respect their awesome power, volcanoes can be of much more service than harm.


Practice problems of this concept can be found at: Volcano Practice Test

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