Dramatic photos of volcanoes in action around the world

Fiery displays of Earth’s power, volcanoes are helping scientists decipher our planet’s inner workings and the ways eruptions shaped life on the surface.

By Maya Wei-Haas
Published 23 Sept 2019, 16:11 BST

From incandescent rivers of molten rock to columns of billowing ash, nothing showcases Earth’s fiery power like a volcano.

These eruptive vents can be found around the world, both on and offshore, with dozens being active on any given day. Their molten fits have helped craft Earth’s surface, carving craters, piling up peaks, and sending out streams of lava that cool into desolate landscapes. Volcanoes have helped shape life as we know it. Each eruption dredges up nutrients from deep underground, laying down fresh rock that breaks down into fertile soils and bolsters life around the globe. But their blasts are also a stark reminder of the fragility of life, with the power to devastate landscapes in a single blow.

One volcano is not like another, and these images capture their dynamic range. Some burst in massive explosions, others burble with liquidy lava. By studying every burp, shiver, and blast of these geologic giants, researchers hope to decipher their past and peer into the planet’s potential futures.

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