Causes embrace the sacred standing of many volcanoes, the poisonous nature of the waste, and the design of the volcanoes.
Curious Youngsters is a sequence for youths of all ages. When you have a query you need an knowledgeable to reply, ship it to curiousKids@theconversation.com.
Why cannot we throw all our rubbish into the volcano and burn it? —Georgine T.
It’s true that the lava is so sizzling that it burns a few of our waste. When Kilauea erupted on the Massive Island of Hawaii in 2018, lava flows had been hotter than 2,000 levels Fahrenheit (1,100 Celsius).
It’s hotter than the floor of Venus and sizzling sufficient to soften many rocks. It additionally heats up like waste incinerators, which usually burn rubbish at 1,800 to 2,200 F (1,000-1,200 C).
[Over 140,000 readers rely on The Conversation’s newsletters to understand the world. Sign up today.]
However not all lava has the identical temperature. Eruptions in Hawaii launch a kind of lava known as basalt. Basalt is hotter and extra liquid than lava erupting at different volcanoes, such because the thick dacite lava emanating from Mount St. Helens in Washington state. For instance, the 2004–2008 eruption at Mount St. Helens produced a lava dome with a floor temperature of lower than about 1,300 F (704 C).
Past temperature, there are different good causes to not burn our waste in volcanoes. First, though at 2,000 levels Fahrenheit lava can soften lots of the supplies in our waste – together with meals scraps, paper, plastics, glass and a few metals – it’s sizzling sufficient to soften many different widespread supplies, together with metal, nickel and iron. Not there.
Second, there will not be many volcanoes on Earth which have lava lakes, or lava-like craters full of lava during which we will throw rubbish. Of all of the 1000’s of volcanoes on Earth, scientists know of solely eight energetic lava lakes.
These embrace Kilauea, Mount Erebus in Antarctica and Nyaragongo within the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Most energetic volcanoes have craters full of rocks and chilly lava, resembling Mount St. Helens, or with water, resembling Crater Lake in Oregon.
The third downside is that dumping rubbish in these eight energetic lava lakes could be a really harmful job. Lava lakes are coated by a layer of chilly lava, however slightly below that crust they’re molten and very sizzling. If rocks or different supplies fall on the floor of a lava lake, they’ll break the crust, disrupt the underlying lava and trigger an eruption.
This occurred in Kilauea in 2015: Blocks of rock from the crater rim fell right into a lava lake and induced a significant eruption that pushed rocks and lava up and out of the crater. Anybody who throws rubbish into the lava lake has to run and keep away from the burning rubbish and lava.
Suppose it was potential to securely dump rubbish in a lava lake: what would occur to the rubbish? When plastic, rubbish and metals burn, they launch a whole lot of poisonous gases. Volcanoes already launch many poisonous gases together with sulfur, chlorine and carbon dioxide.
Sulfur gases can type acidic fog, which we name “vogue” for “volcanic fog.” It may possibly kill vegetation and trigger respiratory issues for folks close by. Combining these already harmful volcanic gases with different gases from burning our waste will make the ensuing fumes much more dangerous to the folks and vegetation close to the volcano.
Lastly, many indigenous communities view close by volcanoes as sacred locations. For instance, the Halema’uma’u Crater in Kilauea is believed to be the house of Pele, the native Hawaiian goddess of fireplace, and the realm across the crater is sacred to native Hawaiians. Throwing rubbish in volcanoes could be an important shame to these cultures.
Hey curious children! Do you might have a query that you want to an knowledgeable to reply? Ask an grownup to ship your query to CuriousKidsUS@theconversation.com. Please inform us your title, age and metropolis the place you reside.
And since Curiosity has no age restrict – adults, tell us what you are pondering, too. We cannot have the ability to reply each query, however we’ll do our greatest.
Emily Johnson, analysis geologist, US Geological Survey
This text is republished from The Dialog below a Artistic Commons license. Learn the unique article.
We’re your voice; You could have been a help for us. Collectively we create journalism that’s unbiased, credible and fearless. You may nonetheless assist us by donating. It is going to imply so much to you for our skill to carry information, views and evaluation to the bottom in order that collectively we will make a distinction.