What Kind of Volcanoes Are There?


Quick Answer

The four main types of volcanoes are cinder cones, composite volcanoes, shield volcanoes and lava domes. These volcanoes have different shapes and types of eruptions.

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Full Answer

Cinder cones are created from a buildup of congealed lava called cinders. The lava is ejected from a single vent and stacks up around a central crater.

Composite volcanoes form many of the world's mountains. Lava flows, volcanic ash, cinders, blocks and bombs alternate in layers forming steep-sided symmetrical cones. A central vent or cluster of vents emerges at the summit from a crater. Cracks on the flanks of the cone can emit lava and strengthen the cone. Deep reservoirs of lava are tapped by composite volcanoes, giving them their massive size.

Shield volcanoes have a gentle slope due to being composed of layers of fluid lava. Highly fluid lava called basalt lava flows out of the vent and fissures, and spreads over great distances. The fluid lava hardens into thin sheets reminiscent of a warrior's shield.

Lava domes are composed of small amounts of viscous lava. This lava piles up around the vent. Some lava domes occur on the sides of large composite volcanoes. The outer shell may harden and bulge outward from the lava inside.

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