Why do people live close to volcanoes?
Volcanoes have a wide range of effects on humans. These can be problematic or beneficial. It is usually the destructive nature of volcanoes which is more widely documented. However, many people rely on volcanoes for their everyday survival. Today, many millions of people live close to volcanoes for this very reason.
People live close to volcanoes because Geothermal energy can be harnessed by using the steam from underground which has been heated by the Earth’s magma. This steam is used to drive turbines in geothermal power stations to produce electricity for domestic and industrial use. Countries such as Iceland and New Zealand use this method of generating electricity.
The video below features the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa in Iceland. It is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions.
The video below shows the Svartsengi Geothermal Power Station next to the Blue Lagoon, Iceland.
Volcanoes attract millions of visitors around the world every year. Apart from the volcano itself, hot springs and geysers can also bring in the tourists. This creates many jobs for people in the tourism industry. This includes work in hotels, restaurants and gift shops. Often locals are also employed as tour guides.
The video below shows the Strokkur Geysir (Selfoss Geyser) in Iceland which is visited by thousands of tourists every year.
Lava from deep within the earth contains minerals which can be mined once the lava has cooled. These include gold, silver, diamonds, copper and zinc, depending on their mineral composition. Often, mining towns develop around volcanoes.
Volcanic areas often contain some of the most mineral rich soils in the world. This is ideal for farming. Lava and material from pyroclastic flows are weathered to form nutrient rich soil which can be cultivated to produce healthy crops and rich harvests.
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