Soils take time to develop after a volcanic
eruption and often the first life to form is
lichen because it can live without soil. Lichen
helps to break down the rocks releasing minerals,
while wind may begin to bring in dust, sand, and
other nutrients forming the beginnings of soil.
This soil spawns plant life to form. Ultimately,
the revegetation of lava flows depends on 2 main
factors: rainfall and the type of lava. The
amount of rainfall may increase the speed at which
revegetation occurs and therefore being close to
the equator would in fact enhance this process
since equatorial regions experience such high
amounts of rainfall.
The type of lava is important because different
types of lava contain different types of minerals
that are important for life to
form. According to the Hawaiian national park
service, ferns can begin to grow as early as 1
year after a lava flow, thus, if you see
vegetation covering a lava flow, it could be as
young as a year old.
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