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The word volcano comes from the island of Vulcano in the Mediterranean Sea. Long ago people thought this island mountain was the chimney of the blacksmith forge of the Roman God Vulcan. The steam and ash that came out of the vent was a sign that Vulcan was working at his forge making weapons for Jupiter and Mars. In Hawaii and other Polynesian islands, local people once attributed volcanic eruptions to the Goddess Pele. They believed Pele was moving from island to island as she sought to escape her evil sister, Na Maka O Kaha'i, the goddess of the sea. Today, scientists understand that volcanic eruptions are surface reminders of Earth's still hot interior.



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