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What are the three main types of volcanoes?

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The three main types of volcanoes are composite, shield and cinder cone volcanoes. Each type of volcano is formed a different way and possesses specific characteristics indicative of its type.

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Composite volcanoes, also called stratovolcanoes, consist of lava flows that are mixed with sandy layers of volcanic rock. These large volcanoes span tens of miles in diameter and tower thousands of feet high, but they have small craters at their summits.

Cinder cone volcanoes are made mainly of cinders, small grainy pieces of volcanic rock; these volcanoes don't have much lava. Cinder cones are smaller volcanoes, usually a thousand feet in height and measuring a mile across.

The largest volcanoes are the shield volcanoes, which reach hundreds of miles in diameter and thousands of feet in height. The islands of Hawaii are actually shield volcanoes lying in the ocean. Shield volcanoes are comprised mainly of frozen lava and have large summit craters.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How are shield volcanoes formed?

    A:

    Shield volcanoes form in areas where low viscosity magma comes to the surface as fast-flowing lava. The lava travels farther than other types of lava, and the steady build-up caused by this type of magma creates the softer sides seen in shield volcanoes.

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  • Q:

    What are some facts about composite volcanoes?

    A:

    Some facts about composite volcanoes include the fact that some of the best-known mountains around the world are composite volcanoes. This list includes Mount Fuji in Japan, Mount Hood in Oregon and Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier in the state of Washington.

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  • Q:

    How are composite volcanoes formed?

    A:

    Composite volcanoes, also known as stratovolcanoes, are formed by the gradual deposition of alternating layers of volcanic lava and ash. When volcanoes erupt, emitting lava that flows very slowly, the lava cools and hardens, forming conical shaped composite volcanoes after multiple eruptions over a span of hundreds of years.

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  • Q:

    How do shield volcanoes erupt?

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    Shield volcanoes usually erupt with splattering liquid lava that fountains out and has little explosive potential. This forms some of the largest volcanoes on Earth with very gentle slopes, since the liquid water cannot build steeper slopes. This type of lava cools to form basalt rock.

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