A Variety of Volcanoes

1642 Words7 Pages
When most people today picture a volcano, they have the same stereotypical view of what it looks like, and what it does. They probably imagine a funnel shaped landform where lava comes exploding out from the top. While this is a fairly accurate portrayal of a volcano, many people don’t know that there are actually several different ways in which volcanoes can be categorized. Based on a volcano’s shape, size, eruption type, and location, it is considered a member of three different volcano types. There are shield volcanoes, composite volcanoes, and cinder cone volcanoes. While all volcanoes share some characteristic similarities, each of them has its own unique aspects as well. The shield volcano is the largest type of volcano. These volcanoes are named after “shields” because their slope is long and gradual, making them look similar to a medieval shield lying on the ground. The shield volcano’s shape is actually caused by the way that it forms. Basalt lava, which is thin and flows quickly, oozes out of a fissure in the ground and gradually runs downhill. Basalt lava runs so quickly that it can cover a great distance before it cools and hardens, so shield volcanoes have less steep rises that are extremely large in diameter. This formation process takes a long time, as the lava piles up slowly, eventually resulting in the gradual slope that gives shield volcanoes their name. It makes sense, given the way in which shield volcanoes form (so that their size is gradually increasing and reaches a vast extent) that some of the world’s largest volcanoes are members of the shield classification. Examples of shield volcanoes include the Hawaiian Islands and volcanic mountains in Northern California and Oregon. The Hawaiian Islands are actually perfect examples of the sheer size of shield volcanoes, as the island chain began as a run of underwater volcanoes that grew
Open Document