A volcano is a mountain that opens downward to a pool of molten rock below the surface of the earth. When pressure builds up, eruptions occur. Gases and rock shoot up through the opening and spill over or fill the air with lava fragments. Eruptions can cause lateral blasts, lava flows, hot ash flows, mudslides, avalanches, falling ash and floods. Volcano eruptions have been known to knock down entire forests. An erupting volcano can trigger tsunamis, flash floods, earthquakes, mudflows and rock falls.
A volcano is a rupture on the crust of a planetary mass object, such as the Earth, which allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface. Earth's volcanoes occur because the planet's crust is broken into 17 major, rigid tectonic plates that float on a hotter, softer layer in the Earth's mantle. Therefore, on Earth, volcanoes are generally found where tectonic plates are diverging or converging. For example, amid-oceanic ridge, such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, has volcanoes caused by divergent tectonic plates pulling apart; the Pacific Ring of Fire has volcanoes caused by convergent tectonic plates coming together.
Volcanoes can also form where there is stretching and thinning of the crust's interior plates, e.g., in the East African Rift and the Wells Gray-Clearwater volcanic field and Rio Grande Rift in North America. This type of volcanism falls under the umbrella of "plate hypothesis" volcanism. Volcanism away from plate boundaries has also been explained as mantle plumes. These so-called "hotspots", for example Hawaii, are postulated to arise from upwelling diapers with magma from the core–mantle boundary, 3,000 km deep in the Earth. Volcanoes are usually not created where two tectonic plates slide past one another. Erupting volcanoes can pose many hazards, not only in the immediate vicinity of the eruption. One such hazard is that volcanic ash can be a threat to aircraft, in particular those with jet engines where ash particles can be melted by the high operating temperature; the melted particles then adhere to the turbine blades and alter their shape, disrupting the operation of the turbine. Large eruptions can affect temperature as ash and droplets of sulfuric acid obscure the sun and cool the Earth's lower atmosphere (or troposphere); however, they also absorb heat radiated up from the Earth, thereby warming the upper atmosphere (or stratosphere). Historically, so-called volcanic winters have caused catastrophic famines.
How do volcanoes formed: Volcanoes dominate the landscape in Nicaragua and Costa Rica – big, massive volcanoes rising up out of nowhere. Occasionally, steam or glowing red lava seeps out of tops. How do volcanoes form, anyway? Most volcanoes are formed by the movement of tectonic plates on the surface of the earth. These plates are basically huge pieces of rock that ‘float’ on the mantle (a layer of the earth that is sort-of liquid rock). The tectonic plates are in constant motion, albeit very slow motion. They sometimes move toward each other, other times they’ll move apart, and still other times one will sink while the other rises above it. When a tectonic plate sinks, it sinks down into the mantle and becomes very hot. So hot, in fact, that the rock melts. This molten rock will gradually make its way up to the surface of the earth through a series of cracks. When it reaches the surface of the earth, we refer to it as lava. As layer upon layer of lava builds up, a volcano is formed.
There are many factors that determine what kind of lava flow will occur and what type of volcano it will be. The amount of gas trapped in the lava, the kinds of minerals making up the lava, and how much pressure can be trapped in the area all affect the eruption and formation of the volcano. You can read about the types of lava and lava flows.