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Why Don’t We Throw Trash in Volcanoes?

Why Don’t We Throw Trash in Volcanoes?

Okay, humans, we make a lot of garbage, and we don’t have any perfect solutions for what to do with it. So, instead of just putting it under the ground, why don’t we just throw it into the volcanoes? Well, as convenient as burning our trash into oblivion might sound, a couple of major reasons to consider. For one thing sending all that trash to the nearest active Volcano could get pretty expensive, especially because lots of places are thousands of kilometers away from a volcano while most cities send their trash tens or hundreds of kilometres to landfills. Some cities also burn a lot of their trash in incineration plants and use that heat to make electricity, so electric bills could go up if we started using volcanoes instead. But different places already handle trash differently, so why don’t cities near volcanoes just use them as big flaming trash piles? Well, cost isn’t the only problem here. Volcanoes aren’t usually the bubbling pits of exposed lava that you see in movies and cartoons. Many volcanoes just look like mountains or hills with a crater near the top and if the craters are filled with anything, liquid water is more common than a lava lake. So you would have to wait for those kinds of volcanoes to erupt and then drop your trash in, which is incredibly dangerous; lots of those eruptions can be pretty violent. Or you can try to drill down into a Volcano’s magma chamber, where the Molten rock sits under lots of pressure until eruption. Given how hard it is to predict what exactly will flip a volcano’s switch, drilling down into that super pressurized chamber or shooting trash into the magma probably aren’t great ideas either. Other kinds of volcanoes like Kilauea in Hawaii have pretty constant calm lava flows. But even though slow-moving lava might seem like a safer and easier way to get rid of garbage, there is another big issue. Clumps of organic matter like food scraps don’t just burn when they hit lava, they explode. Very sadly there is little research into why these explosions happen, but there are plenty of experiments and YouTube videos that show pretty clearly that they do, which does not mean that you should, like, give it a try for fun. The most likely explanation is that any water in the trash immediately boils when it hits some thousand-degree molten lava. That steam expands, forcing the trash and lava out of the way to create an explosive fountain of molten rock. But we don’t know for sure, so get on it science! What we do know is that with your average american generating a couple of kilograms of trash a day, that would be a lot of exploding lava. Not to mention the stuff that probably wouldn’t explode, like plastic, tends to give off dangerous fumes when burned, which is a whole other problem. So even if you live near an active volcano and even if there’s lava at the surface and even if it sounds kind of cool, don’t use it as your garbage disposal. A controlled science experiment or two may be fine but tons of trash creating noxious lava fountains, not so much. Thanks to our Patreon patrons for asking. If you would like to learn more about trash, you can check out our video on how we dealt with it over time a hundred percent without volcanoes. *SciShow Jingle*

44 comments on “Why Don’t We Throw Trash in Volcanoes?

  1. Mini is the time of wondered wouldn鈥檛 it be fun to throw stuff in a volcano, dynamite, propane cylinders etc.

  2. It's frustrating to hear you say "no perfect solutions" when we have plasma gasification. Do you not know about plasma gasification?

  3. Or load it up on rocket through it into the sun! Is it more costly to have trash kill our animals and mess up our planet? I think cost is a stupid argument. I think people are lazy and uncreative.

  4. Just fill up the craters of active but resting volcanoes with rubbish, and wait for it to explode in its own time. It would be safe and effective. No one will be near it when it does explode. So who cares about exploding pineapples?

  5. Even if your ridiculously oversimplified idea of a volcano (i.e. big mountain thingy with lava filled crater on top) was accurate – which it isn't – you'd still just be burning trash, releasing the same harmful gases into the atmosphere that you'd release by lighting it on fire.

  6. Oh yeah you would rather have the trash in oceans and stuff instead of spending the $10 to get it in a volcano

  7. Still sounds preferable to poisoning the oceans. Why is there no pilot program to measure the side effects from residential waste?

  8. The Earth population is ever growing and resources slowly declining. We should have an aggressive recycling program, we should not be utterly destroying material. Everything can be recycled and used for something else. Earth is a spaceship, if we don't get it here we won't be getting it from anywhere else.

  9. whn i see aquaman movie reminds me if the sea Kingdom getting more suffering of trash poisen their home land…

    will the sea kingdom going to war against human races…..???

    cz we doesn't know wht kind of sea creature will give us a warning abt stop trashing around the sea of our trash…

  10. So, Volcanos, and the Sun are out….

    *Why not send it to space, just far enough that it burns off?

    *Why not bury it in the deepest hole we can dig, and cover it, build another one, use it, and by that time, reuse the first one? Anything that couldn't be broken down gets taken out and used.

    *Instead of trying to get reluctant humans to recycle, get robots that know how to ID recyclable materials, send them to trash dumps, and use that stuff. It'll cut down a lot of our landfills.

    *Use materials that aren't 'Recyclable' and build with them. They may not be completely usable, but surely we can make watermills and whatnot from them.

    *Meanwhile, find new ways to store the stuff. Take up less space, gives more time to fix the problem.

    *Stop making it a political problem. People won't agree that way, it will just push them away. Instead, find people who care, make group efforts, and stop trying to get government intervention.

    *Weaponize the stuff. War is inevitable. Prepare for it, use the trash as weapons.

    Oils: We use oils, and they don't harm the environment much.

    Dead animals: Bury them.

    Plastics: This is the biggest problem, so I'm told. Yet, solutions are everywhere…..
    Melt it, reform it into something.

    Burn it… It gets hard after that. Perfect for a container of some sort.

    Stretch it out, make layers of stretched plastic, then melt these together. One big piece of plastic. Easy to fold up, and throw out, without it getting everywhere.


    Packing peanuts: I'm sure we can use these again…. Very simple.

  11. Why can't the trash be placed on the dry ground within the volcano
    It will burn whenever it erupts

  12. I think that the ONLY way to TRULY kill Jeepers Creepers is to throw him in a volcano during his 23 year nap… yeah, he's indestructible, but not to a volcano…

  13. Because throwing the trash in the volcanoes will solve the waste problem putting a lot of people out of work.

  14. Aren鈥檛 volcanos noxious anyway? Pfffttt I don鈥檛 believe u. You can鈥檛 go near one without wearing a glass mask.

  15. i was actually wondering why we don't use it to get rid of radioactive waste (it isint hot enough) and i found this. I didn't know food can explode in lava O_O

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