Dear Sun Spots: I would like to know where the three or four volcanoes are in Maine and if there is a map on the earthquake lines in Maine? – No name, Durham.

Answer: According to http://www.scarborough.k12.me.us/wis/teachers/dtewhey/webquest/nature/volcanoes, ancient volcanic rocks are preserved in many parts of Maine, but there have not been any active volcanoes since the Mesozoic Era. An interesting aspect of Maine’s bedrock is that it records a wide array of geologic environments that have been present. All three major rock types – igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic – are represented. During the protracted geologic history that has brought Maine to the current stage, the movement of continents by the mechanism of plate tectonics has caused the earth’s surface to evolve. Volcanic rocks and distinctive fossil shells show that some of Maine’s rocks formed on volcanic islands in a wide ocean that no longer exists. Geologic similarities between parts of the Maine coast and parts of Newfoundland and Wales suggest that these areas formed together on a small continent far away from North America.

In the meantime, according to the volcano teacher’s guide posted online at www.northernstars.com (Northern Stars Planetarium), Maine has the remains of several volcanoes. They are Traveler Mountain in Baxter State Park, Quoggy Joe Mountain in Presque Isle, Haystack Mountain in Mapleton and Mount Kineo in Moosehead Lake. Mount Katahdin is not volcanic.

To build your own Maine volcano, you might like to try this project with older children (parental supervision please) found online at www.spartechsoftware.com/reeko/Experiments/volcano.htm.

Supplies: Salt dough, plastic soda bottle, baking pan, red food coloring, liquid detergent, baking soda and vinegar.

Be forewarned, you will be building a real working volcano, and it can get messy. After mixing just the right amount of ingredients together, you’ll add the final item to make the volcano “blow its top,” spewing red lava down the sides.

Directions: First, create the “salt dough.” Mix 6 cups flour, 2 cups salt, 4 tablespoons cooking oil and 2 cups water in a large bowl. Work the ingredients with your hands until smooth and firm. Add more water to the mixture if needed.

Stand the soda bottle in the baking pan. Mold the salt dough around the bottle making sure you don’t cover up the bottle mouth or drop any dough into the bottle. Take your time on this step and build your volcano with as much detail as you like.

Fill the bottle most of the way with warm water mixed with a little of the red food coloring. Put 6 drops of the liquid detergent into the bottle. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Slowly pour vinegar into the bottle – and jump back quick!

Notice the red “lava” that flows out of your volcano. This happens because of the baking soda and vinegar mixture. Mixing baking soda and vinegar produces a chemical reaction in which carbon dioxide gas is created – some of the same gas that bubbles in a real volcano. The gas bubbles build in the bottle, forcing the liquid “lava” mixture of the bottle and down the sides of your volcano.

Now wasn’t that fun!



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