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What landforms do volcanoes create?

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Quick Answer

Including the volcanoes themselves, the major landforms volcanoes create include shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes or composite volcanoes, maars, cinder or tephra cones, volcanic or lava domes, craters, calderas, geysers, hot springs, resurgent domes, flood basalts and plateau basalts. Many of these landforms have significant impacts on ecosystems, according to Tulane University.

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Full Answer

Calderas are among the largest landforms created by volcanoes. They generally span up to 50 kilometers or just over 31 miles. A caldera forms when the volcano's magma chamber empties, leading to a collapse of the volcano's structure. Because calderas are often enclosed depressions, they tend to form lakes after collecting rain and melted snow. While similar to calderas, craters are usually much smaller and form as a result of explosions inside the volcano.

Flood basalts, also called plateau basalts, are even larger than calderas. These often towering landforms can span up to thousands of square kilometers or miles. Previously, it was thought that massive basalt lava flows appeared suddenly, like a flash flood, but it is now understood that these flows are slow-moving, almost like glaciers, according to Oregon State University. They may resemble normal rock structures, but flood basalts are made of lava and are considered volcanoes, albeit strange ones.

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