Paper and Cardboard

Paper and cardboard volcanoes are easy and inexpensive to make. You have most of the materials in your home. You will need:

Cardboard Shield Volcano


Shields are another common type of volcanic landform. They have gentle slopes relative to stratovolcanoes. Construction of a model of a shield follows the same basic steps as the model for stratovolcanoes.

Step 1. The Base

The piece of cardboard will be the base of the volcano. Tape a film canister near the center. The vial will be the lava pond or magma conduit.

Step 2. The Interior

The interior of your volcano will be made of newspaper wrapped in tape. Make balls from the newspaper.


You will need balls of different sizes. Use the balls to shape your volcano.


Wrap the surface of the volcano with aluminum foil.


Tape the foil to the bottom of the cardboard. Gently cut the foil above the vial.

 


Take your model outside and paint it. Photo by Christopher Milford.

 


To make your model look more volcanic add a coat of spray glue and sprinkle sand over the volcano.

You can paint the sand black if you wish. You can add several layers. Photo by Christopher Milford.

 


This model is of a shield volcano. Shield volcanoes, like Kilauea and Mauna Loa in Hawaii, have gentle slopes.

They have gentle slopes because they erupt very fluid lava that travels far from the vent.

Cardboard Stratovolcano

Step 1. The Base

The piece of cardboard will be the base of the volcano. Tape the vial near the center. The vial will be the lava pond or magma conduit.

Step 2. The Interior


The interior of your volcano will be made of newspaper wrapped in tape. Make balls from the newspaper.

 


You will need balls of different sizes. Use the balls to shape your volcano.

 


Wrap the surface of the volcano in aluminum foil. Tape the foil to the bottom of the cardboard. Gently cut the foil above the vial. A pencil is useful to hold the center of the foil over the center of your volcano.

 


Take your model outside and paint it. Photo by Christopher Milford.

 


To make your model look more volcanic, add a coat of spray glue and sprinkle sand over the volcano. You can paint the sand black if you wish. You can add several layers. Photo by Christopher Milford.

This model is of a stratovolcano. Stratovolcanoes, like Mt. Hood in Oregon and Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helensin Washington have moderate to steep slopes because they erupt sticky lava that does not travel far from the vent and ash.

Printable Paper

Directions:
First, get a pair of scissors and some glue or tape. Then print this page by clicking the "Print" button in your web browser (or click the "File" menu, and then select the "Print" option). Instructions for assembling the model will be on your printout. Created by Alpha and Gordon, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 91-115.

Simple Eruptions

The simplest and safest way to model an eruption is to mix vinegar, baking soda and a few drops of dish soap. We made two modifications. We added red food coloring to the vinegar to give the fluid more lava-like appearance. We also added alka seltzer (crushed and mixed in with the baking soda). The alka seltzer probably wasn't worth the trouble/cost but, as the red mixture bubbled away down in the vial, our thoughts did drift to the lava ponds we have seen.

 

 

Caldera Box

Calderas and craters are common volcanic features.

This simple demonstration conveys many of the concepts about how these features form.

 

The following items are needed:

a small box flour
a balloon (red is best) plastic tubing
a clamp for the plastic tubing tape

newspaper

 

 

Step 1:

Line the box with newspaper. Punch a hole through the center of the bottom of the box and the newspaper. Pass the tubing through the hole. Tape the balloon to the tubing. Blow through the tubing to inflate the balloon to a few inches in diameter. Clamp off the plastic tubing.

Step 2:


Bury the balloon under a cone of flour.

Step 3:

Sculpt the flour into the shape of your favorite volcano. This teacher is making her favorite Alaskan stratovolcano. The gas pressure in the balloon holds up the top of the cone. In volcanoes the gas dissolved in the magma exerts pressure on the surrounding rocks. For most of the history of the volcano the pressure is great enough to hold up the summit of the volcano.

 

Step 4:

Open the clamp and let the balloon deflate. The flour at the top of the cone collapses because there is not enough force to hold it up. In volcanoes, a large ash eruption or removal of magma to a deeper level reduces the pressure and causes the rocks at the summit to collapse. A large collapse associated with an eruption forms a caldera.

A smaller collapse associated with removal of magma to a deeper level forms a pit crater.

Note: this demo shows a crater or caldera forming at the summit of a stratovolcano. To demonstrate how pit craters form on shield volcanoes use a smaller box and enough flour to make the surface almost horizontal.

How this demonstration is like real calderas and pit craters:

  1. gas pressure holds the overlying material in place
  2. removal of gas pressure causes collapse
  3. the collapse feature is circular
  4. size of the collapse feature is related to the amount pressure released.

How this demonstration is NOT like real calderas and pit craters:

  1. real calderas and pit craters won't fit in a classroom
  2. calderas form from large explosive ash eruptions
  3. water vapor, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide, not air, are the common volcanic gases.

Steve Mattox wishes to thank the participants in Volcanology for Earth Science Teachers for sharing their ideas and enthusiasm.

Topographic Cardboard

 

Three-dimensional cardboard volcanoes require more work but the results are more realistic. They require some knowledge of topographic maps. Because the construction of this model requires the use of a razor-blade knife it may not be appropriate for elementary school students.


Mount St. Helens. Photograph courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey.

 

To make a three-dimensional cardboard volcano you will need:

  • a razor-blade knife
  • a photocopy of the topographic map of your favorite volcano
  • tape or spray glue
  • paint (optional)

Step 1. Selecting a Volcano

Topographic maps are available for all the volcanoes in the United States. They can be ordered from the U.S. Geological Survey. Many local bookstores and outdoor recreation stores also sell topographic maps. The model made below is from a map published in U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1250 about Mount St. Helens. Click here for a simplified topographic map of Mount Saint Helens. The map shows the volcano after 1980 eruption but before major dome building episodes. Your model could also be made of a favorite volcano or the one that is closest to your home or school.

Step 2. Creating a Pattern.

Print the page with the simplified topographic map. This photo shows the original topographic map with specific contours lines (lines of equal elevation) highlighted. The highlighted lines will serve as a simplified topographic map. If you are making your own pattern it is best to make it about 9 or 12 inches on a side. It can be square or rectangular. If needed, enlarge the map to the appropriate size.

Step 3. Cutting Layers. The number of layers (pieces of cardboard) to your volcano depends on the scale (contour interval) of your map and the amount of time you wish to invest in making your model. The yellow lines on the above photo are at intervals of 250 meters going up Mount St. Helens. They adequately show the shape of the mountain and will require 7 layers to be cut (one of each elevation).

Repeat for each layer.

Stack the layers in order of descending elevation.

By the time you are done you will cut out a pattern for each elevation, trace it on the cardboard, cut it out and stack it. You'll be tired of cutting out cardboard!.

Tape or glue the layers in the appropriate (descending elevation) order. Label the elevation of each layer.

Vertical aerial photograph of Mount St. Helens. Courtesy of Washington Department of Natural Resources.

Notice the crater and the major river valleys cut into the volcano. Compare your model to actual photos of Mount St. Helens. Compare your 3-D map to the original simplified topographic map.