What secrets do volcanoes hide?

Dr. Samuel J. Mitchell

When thinking about volcanoes, you are probably imagining an enormous mountain with some fumes on top of it. But 80 percent of the volcanic eruptions on Earth take place in the ocean. Why are underwater volcanoes so active?

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Volcanologists are portrayed in TV and films with the classic examples of a person walking up to the edge of a boiling lava crater in a silver suit, with rocks being hurled at their head. But not all volcanoes look alike, they come in different sizes, shapes and locations, as far as other planets in the solar system.

On Earth, volcanoes have been active for millions of years and there wouldn’t be any life on Earth without them. It is because of them that Earth’s oceans formed and allowed the first life forms to flourish. Over the years, their activity influenced our climate as well as the development of civilisations. Land near volcanoes is much more fertile than the others. But that also exposed humans to the risk of eruptions. In ancient times, Gods were believed to live inside the top of the volcanoes and make the eruptions happen. 

Today science tells us a slightly different story about why volcanoes erupt and also what they really look like. Join this exciting talk with Dr. Samuel Mitchell, as he takes us on a geological field trip to understand the fascinating world of volcanoes on land, underwater and all the way on to other planets. 

Why do volcanoes exist? How are underwater or extraterrestrial volcanoes different?

Talk outline


50 minutes


Inner Earth

About the Fellow

Dr. Samuel J. Mitchell

Dr. Samuel Mitchell is a volcanologist and his main research focuses on volcanic eruptions in our oceans, and the impacts they have on society and aquatic environments.

Inner Earth Collection

From secret worlds to mystical doors, subterranean land appeared in ancient mythology, and legends in all kinds of flavours. But right under our feet lies an incredible force of nature capable of keeping us alive as well as posing existential threats

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