Why do people live near volcanoes?

The advantages and disadvantages for people living near an active volcanic site e.g. Mt St Helen's, USA


Why do people live near volcanoes?


  • Volcanic ash produces very fertile soil, ideal for farming e.g. Mt Etna yields 5 times the average
  • Volcanoes, geysers and bubbling pools make a good tourist attraction which creates jobs and provides money for the local economy
  • Steam and hot water from volcanoes can be used to produce geothermal energy without cost e.g. Japan and Iceland
  • Valuable minerals and metals can be found near volcanic sites such as tin, copper, silver and gold


  • Ash fall- towns and farms are covered by tonnes of ash, destroying crops
  • Poisonous gases are produced, choking and killing people
  • Lava flows, with temperatures between 800c and 1200c
  • Mud flows are formed from ash and rain mixing, creating a catastrophic river of mud


Volcanoes have a wide range of effects on humans. These can be problematic or beneficial. It is usually the destructive nature of volcanoes which is more widely documented. However, many people rely on volcanoes for their everyday survival. Today, many millions of people live close to volcanoes for this very reason.




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