Ask Dr. Universe: Why do volcanoes ‘die?’

volcanoPULLMAN, Wash. – Each volcano’s life is a little different. Many of them are born when big chunks of the Earth’s crust, or tectonic plates, collide or move away from each other. The moving plates force hot, liquid rock, or magma, to rise up from deep within the Earth.

When things get super hot and lot of pressure builds up in the magma chambers, volcanoes can erupt. Some volcanoes can spew ash and lava several miles into the sky. Others will slowly ooze out lava.

Volcanoes can sleep for millions of years before waking again. (Illustration by Rob McClurkan)

Just as each volcano is unique, so are the reasons they go extinct. Generally, though, if a volcano doesn’t have a source of magma, it won’t erupt.

That’s what I found out from my friend John Wolff, a geologist at Washington State University.

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