Q:

What causes a volcano to form?

A:

Quick Answer

A volcano forms when magma pushes up through the Earth's crust from below, depositing lava on the surface. This lava cools, creating volcanic rock. Over time, repeated eruptions of lava build a cone-shaped mountainous structure, producing a volcano.

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Volcanoes typically form around three tectonic features. Plate boundaries are common spots for volcano formation, either divergent plate boundaries where two plates are separating or convergent boundaries where two plates collide. The resulting damage can produce weak spots in the plate, allowing magma to flow up from beneath. Divergent boundaries tend to produce shallow flows of lava and occur regularly on the ocean floor. Convergent boundaries produce thick, viscous lava that may not reach the surface and is responsible for many of the undersea mountain ranges on the planet.

Hot spots are areas where a tectonic plate is weakened, allowing an upwelling of magma from below. Since tectonic plates move over time, these hot spots can create a series of volcanoes, each going dormant when it moves away from the hot spot. The Hawaiian islands are believed to be a result of a moving hot spot underneath the Pacific that created a chain of islands and undersea mountains from Midway to the currently active volcano of Kilauea.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How is a volcano formed?

    A:

    A volcano forms when magma rises through weakened areas of the crust from a magma reservoir many miles deep within the earth, pushing itself up through a vent. This vent acts as a release valve for pressure building up below, and when the new volcano erupts, thousands or millions of pounds of ash and molten rock slowly accumulate, forming a volcanic mountain.

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  • Q:

    What do you call hot lava cooling?

    A:

    When magma rises up to the surface of the Earth from a volcanic eruption or through vents, it turns into lava. When this lava stops flowing and cools, it hardens into what is known as igneous rock.

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  • Q:

    How do volcanoes work?

    A:

    Volcanoes are vents in the Earth's crust that allow liquid lava from inside the planet to travel to the surface. According to Reference.com, the word "volcano" applies to both the vent and the cylindrical cone the lava forms.

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  • Q:

    How does a volcano occur?

    A:

    Volcanoes occur when magma and heated gases from below the Earth's crust are channeled to the surface through fissures in the crust layer. Magma is molten rock that is called lava once it reaches the surface.

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