Volcanoes vs. Earthquakes

Difference Between Volcanoes and Earthquakes

Earthquakes and volcanoes are natural calamities that are potentially destructive and have been a source of huge loss of lives and property as time immemorial. While the students are told of these natural causes of disasters, there are many who cannot tell the difference between a volcano and an earthquake. This article will attempt to make the situation clearer emphasizing the characteristics of both types of natural hazards.


In the simplest terms, one can think of a volcano like a mountain with an opening that goes down below the surface of the earth. Deep below the surface, the earth is hot. The heat melts some of the rocks which become a thick flowing substance called magma. This magma is lighter than the surrounding rock, rises up through the opening and is collected in the magma chambers that are part of the mountain visible to all. Sometimes this magma comes from the structure cracks and fissures and that is when we say that the volcano erupted. The hot liquid, flowing coming from the volcano is called the lava is nothing but the magma which is formed inside the volcano.

The lava, when the movement is thin and can move fast, causing more destruction than when it is thick and slow movement. More gas erupts from thin lava than when it’s thick. The destruction caused by the lava is huge, but it seldom takes lives as people can escape easily and in time from the site. That’s when the explosions associated with volcanic eruptions they become more dangerous because of the presence of deadly ash can smother plants, animals and human beings. Mudflow from volcanoes buries sometimes whole villages and cities that exist around them.

Volcanoes are silent for thousands of years and then suddenly become active, which is why people around them are not aware of the dangers.


The earth is not a solid sphere from the inner side and there are a lot of faults inside the earth. During its revolution and rotation, rocks break and slip along the faults. This movement of rock along a fault releases the enormous amount of energy in the form of seismic waves that have the potential to shake the earth violently. The shaking causes the buildings to collapse ensuing heavy loss of property and innocent lives.

As described above, the structure below the land surface is composed of tectonic plates continue to slide and strike against one another. This results in the formation of energy that shakes the earth badly. The shaken earth causes untold damage above the epicenter of the earthquake and the trembling or shaking lessen in the magnitude and extent with increasing distance from the epicenter of the earthquake.

Unlike the common misconception because of some Hollywood films, there is no tearing the land although there may be some cracks that occur on the surface. It’s just shake that causes all the destruction. The land was divided into zones based on their seismic seismicity or the frequency with which they have experienced tremors in the past.



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