You’ll Never Guess What Percentage Of Earth Is Volcanic

Our planet is a hot mess. And to prove it, most of its composition is volcanic (via USGS). Try not to sweat it, but the truth is you’re highly likely to tread over a volcano at some point in your lifetime — whether you realize it or not. Tectonic plates shift beneath you at record-setting speeds, now at double the rate of what we’ve seen in more than 2 billion years (via New Scientist). All it takes to build a volcano is two tectonic plates positioned over one another just so (via American Museum of Natural History). While you might perceive volcanoes as looming mountains with massive magma spewing from rocky ledges, this is not always the case.

Volcanoes can grow inconspicuously under flat ground, creating almost no visible change at surface level. These types of volcanoes hug the Earth like a wide, flat shield, hence their name — shield volcanoes (via Science Daily). From this perspective, the safest escape might seem to be treading water, but volcanoes are in no way land-bound creations. In fact, the ocean hosts some of the largest volcanoes on Earth and throughout the solar system as a whole (via Cosmos Magazine). By land or by sea, there is no escaping the massive volcanic origins of Earth.

80 percent of Earth is volcanic

The mind-blowing truth is that the majority of our planet’s surface is of volcanic origin. According to Do Something, this accounts for at least 80% of the world. From the mid-ocean ridge to Mount Fuji, volcanoes surround humanity at every turn. While we view volcanic origins as perilous, they are also entirely necessary for sustaining life. In a bitter twist of irony, this is one example of something that kills us while breathing life into us at the very same time.

Scientists posit that Earth’s early atmosphere was a byproduct of volcanic eruptions. According to Sciencing, the gaseous emissions caused by volcanoes made water rise to the surface from within. Not only did volcanoes play a pivotal part in maritime geology, but they also spewed forth a molten-hot mass that over time became the surface we know as land. And that oxygen that keeps us all from dying? Well, theory has it that Earth’s oxygen-rich environment might also be the result of ancient volcanic eruptions.

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