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Where did the term "volcano" come from?

The word "volcano" comes from the little island of Vulcano in the Mediterranean Sea off Sicily. Centuries ago, the people living in this area believed that Vulcano was the chimney of the forge of Vulcan -- the blacksmith of the Roman gods. They thought that the hot lava fragments and clouds of dust erupting from Vulcano came from Vulcan's forge as he beat out thunderbolts for Jupiter, king of the gods, and weapons for Mars, the god of war. In Polynesia the people attributed eruptive activity to the beautiful but wrathful Pele, Goddess of Volcanoes, whenever she was angry or spiteful. Today we know that volcanic eruptions are not supernatural but can be studied and interpreted by scientists.

Tilling, R.I., 1998, Volcanoes: U.S. Geological Survey General Interest Publication, 45 p.

Tags: Geothermal Resources, Earthquakes, Tectonics, Monitoring, Volcanoes, Lava, Seismicity, Ring of Fire