Types of Volcanicity refers to the processes and phenomena associated with the formation, eruption, and activity of volcanoes. Volcanoes are mountains or hills that are formed by the extrusion of magma, ash, and other materials from within the Earth’s crust. There are several types of volcanoes, and each type is characterized by its shape, size, and eruption style.
The different types of volcanoes include shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes, cinder cone volcanoes, calderas, fissure vents, and submarine volcanoes. Shield volcanoes are broad, gently sloping cones formed by fluid lava flows, while stratovolcanoes are tall and steep with a conical shape and are known for their explosive eruptions. Cinder cone volcanoes are small and steep-sided, formed by ejected volcanic debris, and calderas are large circular depressions formed when the top of a volcano collapses. Fissure vents are elongated fractures in the Earth’s crust where lava can erupt along the length of the fissure, while submarine volcanoes erupt underwater, often creating new seafloor and contributing to the formation of new islands.
Types of Volcanicity
Volcanicity can be classified into several types based on the shape, size, and eruption style of volcanoes. Here are some of the common types:
Shield volcanoes are a type of volcano characterized by a broad, gently sloping cone shape that resembles a warrior’s shield. These volcanoes are formed by the accumulation of fluid lava flows that spread out over a wide area, resulting in their shallow incline. Shield volcanoes are typically found near mid-ocean ridges, hotspots, and in areas of extensive volcanic activity.
The lava that flows from shield volcanoes is generally low in viscosity, meaning it has a low resistance to flow. This type of lava is called basaltic lava and is often produced by partial melting of the Earth’s mantle. Basaltic lava has a low gas content and can flow for long distances before cooling and solidifying.
Shield volcanoes have relatively calm eruptions and are not typically associated with violent explosions or pyroclastic flows. Instead, the lava flows gently out of the volcano, forming a broad shield-shaped cone. These eruptions can continue for long periods of time, building up a large shield-shaped mountain over time.
Overall, shield volcanoes are unique and important geological features, and understanding their characteristics and behavior can help researchers better predict and prepare for volcanic activity in areas where they are present.
Examples of Shield Volcanoes
Shield volcanoes are found all around the world, particularly near mid-ocean ridges and hotspots. Here are some examples of well-known shield volcanoes:
- Mauna Loa – located on the Big Island of Hawaii, Mauna Loa is one of the largest shield volcanoes in the world. It rises about 4,170 meters above sea level and has an estimated volume of 75,000 cubic kilometers. Mauna Loa is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, with its most recent eruption occurring in 1984.
- Kilauea – also located on the Big Island of Hawaii, Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. It is a shield volcano with a relatively shallow slope, and its eruptions are often characterized by lava flows rather than explosive eruptions. Kilauea’s most recent eruption began in 1983 and lasted until 2018.
- Piton de la Fournaise – located on the island of La Réunion in the Indian Ocean, Piton de la Fournaise is one of the most active shield volcanoes in the world. It has erupted more than 150 times since the 17th century, with its most recent eruption occurring in 2021.
- Galapagos Islands – the Galapagos Islands are home to several shield volcanoes, including Sierra Negra and Fernandina. These volcanoes have relatively frequent eruptions, with Fernandina’s most recent eruption occurring in 2021.
- Iceland – Iceland is home to many shield volcanoes, including Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull, which gained worldwide attention for its 2010 eruption that disrupted air travel across Europe.
Overall, shield volcanoes are found in many parts of the world and are a significant geological feature with unique characteristics and behaviors.
Stratovolcanoes (Composite Volcanoes)
Stratovolcanoes, also known as composite volcanoes, are a type of volcano characterized by their steep and symmetrical cone shape. They are built up of layers of lava, ash, and other volcanic materials that have been ejected during previous eruptions.
Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are made up of viscous lava that has a high silica content, making it thicker and more resistant to flow. This type of lava creates explosive eruptions, as gas and ash become trapped within the lava and are violently released during an eruption. This can result in the formation of pyroclastic flows, which are fast-moving currents of gas, ash, and rock that can be extremely destructive.
Stratovolcanoes are typically found at subduction zones, where two tectonic plates converge, and one plate is forced beneath the other. This process leads to the formation of a magma chamber, which fuels the volcano’s eruptions. Examples of stratovolcanoes include Mount Fuji in Japan, Mount St. Helens in the United States, and Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.
While stratovolcanoes can be extremely dangerous due to their explosive eruptions, they also provide important benefits to the surrounding environment. The ash and rock ejected during an eruption can create fertile soil, which is beneficial for agriculture. Additionally, the geothermal activity associated with stratovolcanoes can be used to generate clean energy, such as geothermal power.
Examples of Stratovolcanoes (Composite Volcanoes)
Stratovolcanoes, also known as composite volcanoes, are found all around the world, particularly in areas where tectonic plates are subducting beneath one another. Here are some examples of well-known stratovolcanoes:
- Mount Fuji – located on Honshu Island in Japan, Mount Fuji is an iconic stratovolcano and the highest mountain in Japan, rising to an elevation of 3,776 meters. Mount Fuji last erupted in 1707-1708.
- Mount St. Helens – located in the state of Washington in the United States, Mount St. Helens is a well-known stratovolcano that famously erupted in 1980, causing significant damage and loss of life. The eruption drastically altered the landscape of the surrounding area, and the volcano continues to be closely monitored today.
- Mount Pinatubo – located on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, Mount Pinatubo is a stratovolcano that last erupted in 1991. The eruption was one of the largest of the 20th century and caused widespread destruction and loss of life.
- Mount Vesuvius – located near Naples, Italy, Mount Vesuvius is one of the world’s most famous stratovolcanoes, largely due to its historic eruption in 79 AD that buried the ancient city of Pompeii. The volcano has erupted several times since then, with its most recent eruption occurring in 1944.
- Popocatepetl – located in central Mexico, Popocatepetl is an active stratovolcano that has erupted several times in the past few decades. The volcano is closely monitored, and its eruptions can pose a significant threat to nearby populations.
Overall, stratovolcanoes are found in many parts of the world and are a significant geological feature with unique characteristics and behaviors. While they can be extremely dangerous due to their explosive eruptions, they also provide important benefits to the surrounding environment.
Cinder Cone Volcanoes
Cinder cone volcanoes, also known as scoria cones, are a type of volcano that are typically small in size, with steep sides and a bowl-shaped crater at the summit. They are formed from explosive eruptions of gas-rich magma, which blasts fragmented lava into the air. The lava fragments solidify in mid-air and fall back to the ground, building up layers of loose volcanic material that form the cone-shaped structure.
Cinder cone volcanoes are typically found in groups or clusters, and they are often located near other types of volcanoes such as shield and stratovolcanoes. They are typically short-lived, with eruptions lasting only a few months to a few years, and they are not as dangerous as other types of volcanoes because their eruptions are relatively small and not as explosive.
Examples of Cinder Cone Volcanoes
Here are some examples of well-known cinder cone volcanoes:
- Parícutin – located in Michoacán, Mexico, Parícutin is a cinder cone volcano that erupted from 1943 to 1952. The eruption destroyed the town of Parícutin and covered surrounding areas with lava and ash. Today, the volcano is a popular tourist destination.
- Mount Suribachi – located on the island of Iwo Jima, Japan, Mount Suribachi is a cinder cone volcano that last erupted in 1813. The mountain is well-known for its role in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.
- Sunset Crater – located in northern Arizona, USA, Sunset Crater is a cinder cone volcano that erupted around 1085 AD. The eruption formed a large cinder cone and covered the surrounding landscape with lava and ash. Today, the volcano is part of the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.
- Cerro Negro – located in Nicaragua, Cerro Negro is an active cinder cone volcano that has erupted multiple times in the past century. The most recent eruption occurred in 1999.
- Pico do Fogo – located on the island of Fogo, Cape Verde, Pico do Fogo is a cinder cone volcano that has erupted multiple times throughout history. The most recent eruption occurred in 2014-2015 and caused significant damage to nearby communities.
Overall, cinder cone volcanoes are fascinating geological features that provide insight into the processes that shape our planet’s landscape. While they are typically smaller and less dangerous than other types of volcanoes, they can still pose a threat to nearby communities and infrastructure.
Calderas are a type of volcanic feature that are formed by the collapse of a magma chamber after a volcanic eruption. They are large, circular or oval-shaped depressions in the ground that can range from a few hundred meters to tens of kilometers in diameter. Calderas are often surrounded by steep walls, and they may contain a lake or other bodies of water.
Calderas can form as a result of a single large eruption, or they may form gradually over time as magma is erupted and the underlying magma chamber is emptied. They are typically associated with large, explosive eruptions, and they can release enormous amounts of volcanic ash and other materials into the atmosphere.
Examples of Caldera Volcanoes include:
- Yellowstone Caldera – located in Yellowstone National Park, USA, the Yellowstone Caldera is one of the largest volcanic features on Earth. The caldera is approximately 70 km long and 30 km wide, and it has been formed by multiple volcanic eruptions over the past two million years.
- Taal Caldera – located in the Philippines, the Taal Caldera is a volcanic feature that is located on the island of Luzon. The caldera is approximately 25 km across, and it contains a lake that is home to a volcanic island.
- Long Valley Caldera – located in eastern California, USA, the Long Valley Caldera is a volcanic feature that is approximately 20 km wide and 30 km long. The caldera was formed by a series of large volcanic eruptions that occurred between 760,000 and 50,000 years ago.
- Santorini Caldera – located in Greece, the Santorini Caldera is a volcanic feature that is approximately 12 km wide and 7 km long. The caldera was formed by a massive eruption that occurred around 3600 years ago and is thought to have played a role in the collapse of the Minoan civilization.
Overall, calderas are fascinating geological features that provide insight into the complex processes that shape our planet’s landscape. While they can be dangerous during and after eruptions, they also offer important opportunities for scientific research and exploration.
Fissure vents are another type of volcanic feature that occur when magma is extruded through a long, narrow crack in the Earth’s surface. This type of eruption is known as a fissure eruption, and it can produce lava flows that can travel long distances from the vent.
Fissure eruptions are often associated with basaltic lava, which is less viscous than other types of lava and can flow more easily. This type of eruption can occur both on land and underwater, and it is often associated with volcanic activity at divergent plate boundaries, where magma rises to the surface through cracks in the Earth’s crust.
Examples of Fissure Vent Eruptions Include:
- The 1783-1784 Laki eruption in Iceland, which produced a 25 km long fissure and released large amounts of toxic gases and lava flows that covered an area of 565 km².
- The 2018 Kilauea eruption in Hawaii, which involved a series of fissure eruptions that lasted for several months and caused significant damage to nearby communities.
- The 2021 eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which involved fissure eruptions that caused the evacuation of nearby towns and villages.
Fissure vents can be dangerous and destructive, but they also offer important opportunities for scientific research and can provide valuable insights into the geological processes that shape our planet.
Examples of Fissure Vents
Some of the well-known examples of fissure vents include:
- The Eldgjá fissure in Iceland – This is one of the largest known fissure vents in the world, measuring about 70 km long. The fissure produced a massive eruption in the 10th century, which was one of the most catastrophic volcanic events in recorded history.
- The Laki fissure in Iceland – This fissure is about 27 km long and was the site of a major eruption in 1783-1784 that released massive amounts of lava and poisonous gases. The eruption had a significant impact on climate, causing a “dry fog” that reduced sunlight and affected crops throughout Europe.
- The Holuhraun fissure eruption in Iceland – This fissure eruption occurred in 2014-2015 and was one of the largest in Iceland in recent history. It produced extensive lava flows that covered an area of over 85 square kilometers.
- The Krafla fissure system in Iceland – This fissure system is located in the northern part of Iceland and has been the site of numerous eruptions throughout history. The most recent eruption occurred in 1984 and lasted for nine years, producing large lava fields and a new crater.
Fissure vents are common features in Iceland due to its location on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where tectonic plates are moving apart and creating new cracks and fissures in the Earth’s crust.
Submarine volcanoes, also known as underwater volcanoes, are volcanic structures that form beneath the surface of the ocean. These volcanoes can be either active, dormant or extinct, and can be found all over the world’s oceans.
Submarine volcanoes form in much the same way as their terrestrial counterparts, through the movement of magma from deep within the Earth’s mantle to the surface. However, because they are located under water, the eruptions and lava flows associated with these volcanoes are generally not visible to the naked eye.
The volcanic activity associated with submarine volcanoes can be studied using specialized equipment, such as remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and submarines, which can be used to collect data and samples from the ocean floor.
Some of the well-known examples of submarine volcanoes include:
- Axial Seamount – This underwater volcano is located about 400 kilometers off the coast of Oregon in the United States. It is one of the most active submarine volcanoes in the world, with the most recent eruption occurring in 2015.
- Loihi Seamount – This submarine volcano is located off the coast of Hawaii and is still in the early stages of development. It is believed to be the youngest volcano in the Hawaiian island chain.
- Kick-’em-Jenny – This submarine volcano is located in the Caribbean Sea, near the island of Grenada. It is one of the most active submarine volcanoes in the world and has erupted at least 12 times since it was first discovered in the 1930s.
Submarine volcanoes are an important part of the Earth’s geology and provide valuable information about the processes that shape our planet. They also play a role in the formation of new landmasses and can have significant impacts on marine ecosystems and weather patterns.
Examples of Submarine Volcanoes
In addition to the examples mentioned in my previous response, here are a few more examples of notable submarine volcanoes:
- Kavachi – This submarine volcano is located off the coast of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. It is one of the most active submarine volcanoes in the world, with eruptions occurring every few years.
- Monowai – This submarine volcano is located in the Kermadec Islands northeast of New Zealand. It is one of the most active submarine volcanoes in the Southern Hemisphere, with frequent eruptions.
- West Mata – This submarine volcano is located near the Samoa Islands in the South Pacific. It was discovered in 2009 and has been actively erupting since then, making it one of the most active submarine volcanoes in the world.
- Tamu Massif – This submarine volcano is located in the northwest Pacific Ocean and is the largest known volcano on Earth. It is estimated to be about 145 million years old and covers an area roughly the size of the state of New Mexico.
Submarine volcanoes are important features on the ocean floor and play a significant role in the formation of new landmasses, as well as in the regulation of ocean chemistry and the global carbon cycle.
In conclusion, there are several different types of volcanicity, each with its own unique characteristics and eruption styles. These include shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes (or composite volcanoes), cinder cone volcanoes, caldera volcanoes, fissure vents, and submarine volcanoes. Each of these types of volcanoes is formed through different geological processes, and their eruptions can have different impacts on the surrounding environment. Despite their potential for destruction, volcanoes are also important features of the Earth’s geology and can provide valuable insights into the inner workings of our planet.