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The branch of geology that deals with volcanism.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a division of dynamic geology. It deals with the processes and reasons for the formation of volcanoes, their development, the structure and composition of the products of eruption (lava, gases, and so on), the principles of the distribution of volcanoes on the earth’s surface, and changes in the character of their activity with time. The practical goal of volcanology is the development of methods of forecasting eruptions and of using volcanic heating of water for industrial and other national purposes. In solving theoretical and practical problems volcanology uses data from geology, geotectonics, geophysics, geochemistry, physical chemistry, and petrology. In these sciences volcanology participates in the solution of general theoretical questions of geology: the sources of volcanic energy, the conditions of evolution of magma, the distribution of the magmatic deep and intermediate foci, and the role of volcanic activity in forming the earth’s crust.

The first information about volcanology dates to the middle of the first millennium B.C. (Heraclitus in the sixth century and Aristotle in the fourth century in Greece and Strabo in the first century B.C.-first century A.D. and Pliny the Younger in the first century A.D. in Rome). Strabo described an eruption of the volcano Kaimeni (Thera), which took place in 196 B.C., and Pliny described the catastrophic eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79, which he witnessed. In 1842 a special scientific institution—a volcanological observatory built on the slope of Vesuvius—was organized. Its founding was the beginning of multifaceted research into volcanic activity. A volcanic observatory was founded in 1911 on the volcano Kilauea in Hawaii. After that there appeared an observatory in Indonesia and a whole series of observatories and stations in Japan.

In the USSR volcanology was developed by the scientists F. Iu. Levinson-Lessing, A. N. Zavaritskii, and V. I. Vlodavets. Volcanological institutions were founded in 1935 on Kamchatka. The laboratory of volcanology that had been established in Moscow in 1945 was reorganized into the Institute of Volcanology (Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski!) in 1962. In addition to these institutions, volcanological research is carried on by the volcanology laboratory of the Sakhalin Integrated Research Institute, as well as by the geological institutes of Armenia, Georgia, and other republics. The research of Soviet volcanologists occupies a prominent place in the International Association of Volcanologists.

Observations and research in volcanology are published in the special publications of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR Biulleten’ Vulkanologicheskoi stantsii: AN SSSR (Bulletin of the Volcanological Station: Academy of Sciences of the USSR; since 1937), and Trudy Instituta vulkanologii (Transactions of the Institute of Volcanology; since 1940). Among the international editions, the journal Zeitschrift fur Vulkanologie, with supplements, was published between 1914 and 1938; Bulletin volcanologique, the organ of the International Association of Volcanologists, has been published since 1924; and Bulletin of the Volcanological Society of Japan has been published since 1932.


Zavaritskii, A. N. “Nachalo russkoi vulkanologii.” In Iubileinyi sbornik, posviashchennyi tridtsatiletiiu Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi sotsialisticheskoi revoliutsii, part 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.
Meniailov, A. A. “Vulkanologiia.” In Razvitie nauk o Zemle v SSSR. Moscow, 1967.
Macdonald, G. A. “Volcanology.” Science, 1961, vol. 133, no. 3,454, pp. 673-79.
Vlodavets, V. I. “Achievements of Modern Geological Volcanology and Its Trends.” Earth-Science Reviews, 1966, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 181-97.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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