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There are many volcanoes around the world, one might think there are all the same but in fact, volcanoes are separated into three categories. The three categories that volcanoes are separated to is composite, cinder cones, and shield volcanoes. Shield volcanoes have been around for some time now but what are shield volcanoes and where are shield volcanoes found? What are the similarities and differences between the shield, cinder cones, and composite volcanoes? Lastly, what are the effects of shield volcanoes?
What is a shield volcano? They are volcanoes that are wide, broad, with shallow slope sides. They are built from primarily low viscosity lava flows that stack on each other over time. Like its name a shield volcanoes width is twenty times its height. Their diameter can be somewhere from a few to more than hundreds of kilometers across and are the biggest type of volcanoes. The lava that is produced by shield volcanoes are usually basaltic and they have low viscosity lava. Shield volcanoes eruptions are considered calmer than the other two unless water enters its vents. Shield volcanoes can be found in the Hawaiian Islands, in fact, all the volcanoes there are shield volcano and largest shield volcano Mauna Loa is located there.
Additionally, they can be found in Iceland and the Galapagos Islands where the island was created by shield volcanoes over time. There are also shield volcanoes in New Zealand, United States, and most are in the oceans. Essentially shield volcanoes can be found all over the world. They are even found on other planets. The first difference between volcanoes is their structure is that composite volcanoes or stratovolcanoes have an ascending, curved inward slope, with a small summit crater, and are tall. Cinder cone volcanoes are the classic volcano where they have steep, straight sides, with one big summit crater. Unlike the other two shield volcanoes is flatter on top with an upward curved surface slope.
The second difference between the volcanoes is the lava they produce. Composite volcanoes produce a combination of andesitic, rhyolitic, and dacitic lava which is somewhat cool and dense. Cinder cones produce a basaltic lava but also has gas. Shield volcanoes have just a basaltic lava. The third difference is their eruption rate and how they erupt. Since composite volcanoes are equipped with a low magma amount, this results in composite volcanoes rarely having eruptions. But when composite volcanoes do erupt they are highly explosive. Cinder cones, on the other, hand have a very limited supply of magma. This results in cinder cone volcanoes to erupt a few or even one time during their life. The eruptions of cinder cone volcanoes are described as a lava fountain. Shield volcanoes, on the other, hand have a high amount of magma, meaning they have regular eruptions.
The eruptions of shield volcanoes are not explosive at all but it can travel long distances. All in all shield volcanoes are the nicest of the three but don’t be fooled it can still do damage. Shield volcanoes are found around the world and are easy to spot since they resemble a warrior’s shield. Lastly, they have helped create my habitable land we live on or know today.
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