Why do people continue to live in areas of tectonic/volcanic activity?

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Why do people continue to live in areas of volcanic and earthquake activity?   Fertile soil Ash is a fertiliser, and as soil around volcanoes is often covered in ash, it is very fertile, which allows for high crop yields. Furthermore, the weathering of volcanic rock releases potassium into the soil, which is essential for plant growth. The magma carries nutrients and minerals such as iron from below the earth’s crust. The ash then delivers these to the soil. Volcanoes are popular with farmers, as they can produce better quality crops, therefore they can make more money, although living on a volcano could prove to be highly dangerous. Many farmers choose to live in these areas for the fertile soil. An example of where volcanic soil is used in farming is Mt Vesuvius in Italy. Here, many products are grown, such as olives, vines, nuts and fruit (mainly oranges and lemons) are grown. Mt Vesuvius is still an active volcano, however many people still choose to live there, due to the fertile soil. Tourism Many people live in areas of volcanic and seismic activity because they are popular tourist areas. This provides money making opportunities. Tourists visit these areas due to their spectacular scenery, leisure prospects, volcanic features (Hot springs, mud baths, and geysers) and some even to ski. These all provide money for locals working in the industry. Tourist facilities also employ many people. Many people choose to live in these areas for employment in the industry. An example of tourism in an area of tectonic activity is the Blue Lagoon spa in Iceland. It is one of the country’s top visitor attractions. The water is vented from a lava flow and is used primarily to generate electricity, before it is fed into the Lagoon. Reportedly, over 1.2 million people visited the Lagoon in 2010 alone, which is an increase from the previous year, even as world tourism figures are falling rapidly. This shows that volcanoes are popular tourism destinations which can produce a high income for residents and locals, which is a major reason why people decide to live in such areas. Minerals Minerals are carried up to the earth’s crust in the magma by convection currents in the mantle, however many of these are left in the volcanic rock during the eruption, and so they aren’t carried into the soil. These minerals are often sought after, so mines are set up in volcanoes. This leads to employment, and brings money into the area if the minerals are rare. Mined materials include gold, silver, copper and sulphur. Miners live in areas of volcanic activity for employment. In Indonesia, the Ljen volcano has a crater lake, which is the site of a sulphur mining operation, because of the high sulphur levels on the lake floor. This is labour intensive, however many miners still move to this area to find work there, despite the fact that the volcano is still active and there is little protection from harmful substances. Building materials Once the volcano has erupted, the solidified lava can be used for building. In many cases, ash that is left lying on unused soil has been compressed to form bricks, which are then built into places such as homes for residents. This creates jobs in construction; so many builders might want to live in areas of volcanic activity. Many builders move to areas of tectonic activity because there is work. An example of this is Mt Smart stadium in Auckland, New Zealand, which has been constructed around the remnants of the volcanic cone of Mt Smart. Many builders live in these areas because the materials from the volcanoes are built into buildings, which mean work and income. Geothermic energy Geothermal energy is inexpensive. It is used often on divergent plate boundaries, where the crust is remarkably thinner. This makes it easier for the heat from the mantle to power generators, which convert it into steam. This is treated to get rid of any dangerous dissolved materials, and is used to power homes, schools and workplaces. An example of this is the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Before the water reaches the Lagoon, it is passed through turbines, which generate electricity. This is possible at divergent plate boundaries, where the crust is significantly thinner. This geothermal energy, from different areas of Iceland, powers 70% of homes, providing 10% of the country’s overall energy.  

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