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A volcano is an opening or vent in the Earth’s upper mantle which allows magma and gases produced by the melting of rock below the surface to be discharged. The volcanic eruption is caused by the buoyancy of the magma, the pressure of the gases, and new magma being injected into a chamber which is already full of existing magma. (See endnote 25.) Volcanoes may produce ash, toxic gases, flash floods of hot water and debris, lava flows, and fast-moving flows of hot gases and debris resulting in death by suffocation, infectious disease, respiratory illness, burns, injury from falling, etc. Volcanic ash is gritty, abrasive, corrosive, slippery, and may cause injury or exacerbate chronic conditions in individuals who have existing lung and heart diseases as well as harm infants, the elderly, the infirm, and those with impaired immune systems. The gases, primarily carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, are found in low-lying areas, and in large concentrations can injure and kill people. At low levels they are very irritating to the eyes, nose, and throat and can cause rapid breathing, headaches, dizziness, and spasms of the throat. (See endnote 26.)

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