FREE primary school teaching resources, including FREE to download classroom display resources for Early Years (EYFS), KS1 and KS2 including stickers, posters, wordmats, signs, roleplay ideas and much much more! A volcano is a very deep hole in the Earth’s top layer that can let out hot gasses, ash and lava.
Volcanoes have long shafts that go all the way down through the Earth’s first layer, the crust, to magma in between the crust and the mantle (the Earth’s second layer). Many volcanoes have several vents – a main one, and secondary ones that branch off the main vent. There are three ways to describe a volcano and explain what it’s doing  – active, erupting, and dormant.
An extinct volcano is one that hasn’t erupted in at least 10,000 years, and that scientists don’t think will erupt again for a very long time.

Depending on how thick the magma is, volcanoes can be different shapes such as shield, composite or dome. Most volcanoes can be found in countries that have coastlines on the Pacific Ocean – this is called the Ring of Fire. Volcanologists (scientists who study volcanoes) can sometimes tell if a volcano is going to erupt by keeping track of earthquakes underneath it.
Visit the Natural History Museum: their brand-new gallery about volcanoes and earthquakes features an earthquake simulator where you can feel the groud shake underneath your feet, as well as a heat suit worn by volcanologists.
The volcano’s main vent goes all the way down to the layer of magma in between the Earth’s crust and mantle. Lava flowing out of volcanoes can burn and destroy anything in its path, and ash can be so thick in the air that it’s hard to breathe.

When magma is thin, the gas bubbles can rise and pop easily – volcanoes located over thin magma don’t have very large explosions. Animals living near a volcano may start to act differently, as if they can sense something is going to happen. Most volcanoes are located along the edges of tectonic plates, especially around the Pacific Ocean – this is called the Pacific Ring of Fire.

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