We’re waiting to see if Mount St. Helens will erupt again inWashington State, but we never hear about volcanic activityon the East Coast of the U.S. There’s a scientific reasonfor this.

Sally Harris writes that the kinds of geological conditionsthere don?t support volcanic activity. Geoscientist R.J.Tracy says, “The active margin of North America is itswestern margin, and only the northwestern segment of itcurrently has the right conditions to produce volcanoes likeMount St. Helens. The interior of North America and the Eastcoast lie far from any currently active plate boundaries andtherefore are not locales where volcanism can occur.”

At least one of the following conditions must be present forvolcanic activity: “Divergent margins,” which are placeswhere the Earth’s plates move apart; “Convergent margins,”where the Earth’s plates collide and one dips below theother forming a volcanic arc that may become active; or “Hotspots” in the Earth’s mantle.

There is evidence from rocks in Virginia that volcanoeserupted in the area about 200 million years ago.

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