I vulcani e il loro impatto ambientale.

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Come è legata l’attività vulcanica al clima.

I vulcani nel corso della storia hanno avuto un ruolo principale nel primo sviluppo del pianeta e nei suoi successivi cambiamenti climatici.

Cosa rende un vulcano pericoloso?

Ciò che rende un vulcano pericoloso sono i flussi di lava che fuoriescono dal cratere, i flussi piroclastici emessi, le ceneri, i terremoti conseguenti le emissioni di gas. Tutto questo può portare inquinamento ambientale e un eventuale cambiamento climatico. 

recente eruzione dell’Etna
Quali sono le conseguenze di un’eruzione?

A seconda della grandezza dell’eruzione si avranno conseguenze diverse. Una piccola eruzione porterà solo cambiamenti locali; un’eruzione imponente invece darà maggiori conseguenze. 

Un’eruzione è caratterizzata dall’emissione di gas e ceneri. Queste ultime ricadono a terra nel giro di un anno, mentre i primi, più duraturi, sono responsabili dei cambiamenti metereologici. In particolare l’anidride solforosa (SO2). In caso di una grande eruzione viene emessa molta anidride, questa reagisce nell’alta atmosfera con l’acqua e forma delle particelle aerosol di acido solforico (H2SO4). Esso può risiedere per anni nell’atmosfera, agisce come specchio per raggi solari, li riflette provocando un raffreddamento globale. 

I vulcani inquinano anche a breve termine: sia che siano grandi o piccole tutte le eruzioni emettono flussi di piroclasti. Questi flussi si spostano sotto forma di nubi calde e veloci che distruggono tutto ciò che incontrano; creando dunque enormi danni alla popolazione e alla flora locale. 

eneri dell’eruzione del vulcano Mayon, Filippine (AFP/LaPresse)

Un altro rischio delle eruzioni sono le ceneri; come i piroclasti essi distruggono flora e fauna. In alte concentrazioni sono dannose anche per noi umani. Oltre al il rischio da inalazione potremmo ingerire alimenti e acqua contaminata.

Tra il gas emesso dai vulcani vi è anche la CO2. Viene emessa anidride carbonica non solo durante un’eruzione ma anche nel periodo di tempo fra due eruzioni. E’ particolarmente pericolosa per la comunità, spesso sono stati registrati casi asfissia nella zona limitrofa all’eruzione.

In un quadro generale le emissioni dei vulcani sono minime rispetto a quelle dell’uomo. Se escludiamo i vulcani sottomarini (che non contribuiscono particolarmente alla concentrazione di CO2 in atmosfera) la CO2 emessa annualmente è intorno ai 0,3 miliardi di tonnellate l’anno, contro invece circa 30 miliardi dell’uomo. Parte di quella anidride carbonica viene assorbita dalla vegetazione e l’oceano, il resto però rimane nell’atmosfera ad aumentare la concentrazione.


Etna ieri e oggi:

L’Etna è un vulcano ancora attivo creatosi circa 600 mila anni fa dallo scontro tra la zolla euro-asiatica e zolla africana. 

Alcune eruzioni importanti: 

Etna che erutta
  • Durante il 1600 ci furono due importanti eruzioni, la prima portò alla creazione di alcune grotte presenti anche oggi: la Grotta del Gelo e la Grotta dei Lamponi. 
  • La seconda viene ricordata perché estremamente distruttiva: la lava distrusse parte di Catania, il terremoto fece cadere numerosi paesini e molti villaggi minori vennero seppelliti. Creò i due coni di piroclasti chiamati Monti Rossi. 
  • Più recentemente ricordiamo l’eruzione del 1983 e del 1991, fu la più lunga eruzione del XX secolo con una durata di ben 473 giorni. 

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