The Brief but Explosive Lives of One-Shot Volcanoes

October 6, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. shed light  on [shed lahyt] (idiom) – to reveal new things about something
Example:  The scientists aim to shed light on the mysterious disappearance of salmons in the southern part of sea.

2. erupt [ih-RUHPT] (v.)  – to suddenly explode and release lava, rocks, and ash
 Example: The public had to evacuate the town when the volcano erupted.

3. intensity [in-TEN-si-tee] (n.) – the amount of strength or force
Example: The high tide and strong winds further increased the intensity of the tsunami.

4. innards [IN-erdz] (n.) – the inner parts of something
Example:  She studied the innards of the frog to prepare for her anatomy test.

5. contingency [kuh n-TIN-juh n-see] (n.) – a possible event that must be prepared for, such as a future emergency
Example:  The mayor allocated 10% of the town’s funds for contingency and disaster prevention.


Read the text below.

A new study in Spain aims to shed light on the inner activities of volcanoes that erupt only once in their lifetime.

Called monogenetic volcanoes, these volcanoes erupt once before becoming extinct. Most volcanoes on land are actually monogenetic, although most people thought majority of the volcanoes are polygenetic.

Because people know less about these one-shot volcanoes, a team of researchers in Spain developed a new technique to understand them better. The technique, called electrical resistivity tomography, sends electrical current through the earth. By measuring the changes in intensity as the current travels through various rock layers, the researchers were able to develop a picture of the innards of several monogenetic volcanoes.

This technique enables scientists to better understand how volcanoes are formed and predict future eruptions. It also unlocks a wealth of new information about monogenetic volcanoes, which until now have received relatively little attention from scientists.

According to Stéphanie Barde-Cabusson, a volcanologist in Barcelona, monogenetic volcanoes need to be studied even though they may not be as active as polygenetic ones. She cautioned that the danger these volcanoes may cause should not be underestimated.

Although they only erupt once, monogenetic volcanoes tend to explode strongly, lasting for days or even weeks. They are also very common on land.  For example, the largest city in New Zealand, Auckland, sits on top of 53 monogenetic volcanoes which are expected to erupt hundreds or thousands of years from today. This discovery prompted the New Zealand government to create a volcanic contingency plan for the city.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think that it is important to study specific kinds of volcanoes? Why or why not?
·         Would you be willing to live in Auckland, New Zealand despite the fact that it sits atop 53 monogenetic volcanoes? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Do you think your country is prepared to handle most kinds of natural disasters? Discuss with your tutor.
·         How can the government prepare for natural disasters such as volcanic eruption?


October 6, 2013