A volcano is an opening, or rupture, in the Earth's surface or crust, which allows hot, molten rock, ash, and gases to escape from deep below the surface. Volcanic activity involving the extrusion of rock tends to form mountains or features like mountains over a period of time. Volcanoes are generally found where tectonic plates pull apart or come together, or where the Earth's crust stretches and grows thin. In addition, volcanoes can be caused by "mantle plumes," at so-called "hotspots" that can occur far from plate boundaries. Hotspot volcanoes are also found elsewhere in the Solar System, especially on rocky planets and moons.
From a Unification perspective, several points can be made:
- A volcanic eruption is a natural phenomenon, and, like other natural phenomena, it is caused by the action of certain principles of nature. In other words, the external phenomenon is the result of the operation of invisible, internal principles.
- The scientific study of volcanoes helps us understand more about the Earth's structure, its dynamic nature, and how it has been formed over the long course of history. This type of study is a manifestation of human intelligence and analytical thought, coupled with careful observations and measurements of seismic events. These attributes are linked to our spiritual dimension, endowed by God.
- The study of volcanoes is also indicative of our inner drive to understand nature in all its forms and phenomena and to take as much control as possible over these phenomena. Although phenomena such as volcanic eruptions are beyond our control, this inner drive to investigate them is also manifested in many of our other endeavors, and it enables us to fulfill what the Unification principle calls God's Third Great Blessing to humanity. This principle indicates that our relationship with nature needs to be guided by true understanding of and love for the natural world.
- A volcanic eruption poses danger to human life and property. Some may question why a benevolent God would allow a volcano to be so destructive. Yet the problem is not that God allows such destruction because, as noted above, volcanic eruptions are natural phenomena that take place according to certain principles of nature. Rather, the problem is that humans, even after knowledge of the danger, are willing to take the risk and put their lives and property in danger.
- We need to educate ourselves about methods of avoiding the dangers of volcanoes and minimizing the loss of life and property. In other words, given our knowledge of volcanoes and how and where they occur, we need to take responsibility for such things as where we live and how to prepare for volcanic eruptions.