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What type of volcano is Mount Kilauea?

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Quick Answer

Mount Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii is a shield volcano. Its continuous lava flow since 1983 is a defining characteristic of a shield volcano.

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Full Answer

Shield volcanoes, such as Mount Kilauea, have a larger mass and volume of lava than stratovolcanoes. The mass of Kilauea creates a caldera at the top of the summit. Like other shield volcanoes, Mount Kilauea produces basaltic lava. The structure of the volcano creates opportunities for groundwater to seep into the hot rocks, creating steam and eventually an eruption due to the increase in pressure. Mount Kilauea has a limited history of large eruptions.

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