We humans have a big problem with the trash. There are so many active volcanoes on Earth. Then why not join the profit to the delightful and solve everything by throwing the garbage into these active mountains? Using volcanoes as large natural incinerators?
There are many reasons. First of all, not all lava burns at the same temperature as incinerators (1,000-1,200 °C). In the eruption of the Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano in 2018, lava flows were warmer than 1,100 °C, but for example the eruption of 2004-2008 at Mount St. Helens in Washington was at a temperature of about 1,100 °C
Also, although many materials can be fused into our trash, including food, paper, plastic, glass and some metals, volcanoes could not melt many other common materials, such as steel, nickel and iron. Another reason is that there aren’t many volcanoes on Earth with lava lakes (we only know about 8).
These lava lakes, moreover, are very often covered by a cooling crust that, below, has a boiling sea of lava. If rocks or other materials – in this case the trash – fall on the surface of a lava lake, they will break the crust, destroy the lava below and cause a great explosion.
Such a thing has already happened in the Kilauea volcano in 2015; pieces of rock fell from the crater edge and caused a large explosion that expelled rocks and lava up and out of the crater. This would be another big problem in throwing the trash inside a volcano. However, in case we find a way to throw junk into volcanoes, we could create what in jargon is called “vog” or “volcanic fog,” which can kill plants and cause respiratory problems to people nearby.
I mean, it might seem obvious, but throwing the trash in the volcanoes isn’t the solution. By the way, what if all the volcanoes on Earth were to erupt?