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Facts about Volcanoes for Children and Teachers

Here are some fascinating facts about volcanoes:

Where are volcanoes found?

Volcanoes are mainly found where two of the earth's tectonic plates join. Lots of them are found in an area called the Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire goes around the edge of the Pacific Ocean.


Lots of volcanoes are found on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

More than half of the world’s active volcanoes are part of the Ring of Fire. Lots of volcanoes are deep under the ocean. These are called submarine volcanoes.

How are volcanoes formed and why do volcanoes erupt?

Volcanoes form when magma travels from the Earth’s upper mantle to its surface. Pressure builds up inside the volcano and pushes magma through cracks in it. When the magma reaches the surface it erupts. Lava, steam, gaseous sulfur compounds, ash and broken rocks can come out of a volcano when it erupts.

As the lava cools it forms a mountain shape. Repeated eruptions make the volcano get bigger. The explosion that happens when a volcano erupts causes the dome shape seen in some volcanoes.

Facts about Volcanoes - the Ring of Fire

A cross-section of a Volcano

What happens when a volcano erupts?

When a volcano erupts harmful substances are released. Volcanic ash can make it hard for people and animals to breathe. Lava flows can cover large areas of land, destroying homes and habitats. Lava flows can cause fires. Ash and mud can mix with rain and melting snow, which travels fast, destroying large areas of land.

Facts about volcanoes - cross-section of a volcano

A highway in Hawaii destroyed by a lava flow.

What are the different types of volcanoes?

There are three main types of volcano. A Composite volcano, a Shield volcano and a Dome volcano.  


What is a Composite volcano?

Composite volcanoes are very tall. They are made of lots of layers of hardened lava. This lava cools and hardens quickly, which means it doesn’t travel very far. Composite volcanoes are also called Stratovolcanoes.

Volcano Facts - types of volcanoes

Three types of volcano

What is a Shield volcano?

Shield volcanoes are made from slow flowing lava. They are much shorter than Composite volcanoes and are shaped like a shield.


What is a Dome volcano?

Dome volcanoes are smaller than Composite volcanoes. They form when ash and rocks settle around the vent of the volcano.


What is an active volcano?

An active volcano is a volcano that has erupted in the past 10,000 years.


What is a dormant volcano?

A dormant volcano is a volcano is an active volcano that hasn’t erupted for recently but is expected to erupt again.


What is an extinct volcano?

An extinct volcano is a volcano that hasn’t erupted in the past 10,000 years and isn’t expected to erupt again.


Why do people live near volcanoes?

People choose to live near volcanoes because the soil is very fertile, there is geothermal energy and minerals and they are good for tourism.

Volcano Facts - Iceland

Strokkur Geysir in Iceland. Geothermal energy is great for heating and tourism.

Which are the most famous volcanoes in the world?

Mount Vesuvius is in Italy. It is a dormant Composite volcano.

Facts about Volcanoes - Pompeii

Snow capped Mount Vesuvius behind Pompeii

Mount Fuji is in Japan. It is a dormant Composite volcano.

Facts about Volcanoes - Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is near Tokyo in Japan

Cotopaxi is in Ecuador. It is an active Composite volcano.

Facts about Volcanoes - Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi Volcano in Quito, Ecuador

Krakatau is in Indonesia. It is an active Composite volcano.

Facts about Volcanoes - Krakatau

Krakatau Volcano erupting in 2011

Kilauea is in Hawaii. It is an active Shield volcano.

Facts about Volcanoes - Kilauea

Aerial view of Kilauea, an active shield volcano.

Colima is in Mexico. It is an active Dome volcano.

Facts about Volcanoes - Colima

Colima, an active Dome volcano in Mexico.

Mount Ngauruhoe is in New Zealand. It is an active Composite volcano.

Facts about Volcanoes - Ngauruhoe

Mt. Ngauruhoe (Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings films) on the North island of New Zealand

Teachers: If you're looking for more in-depth learning and facts about Volcanoes, check out our Volcanoes Geography lessons for Year 3/4 or our Extreme Earth Topic for Year 5/6.

Lesson Pack Volcanoes

Lesson Pack Extreme Earth

FreeBee Volcano Diagram Worksheets