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Volcanoes

What are volcanoes?


A volcano is a landform which is formed when magma from the mantle ejects onto the earths surface. Magma is molten rock that is found below the earths surface. It will build up within the crust to form a magma chamber. A magma chamber is a reservoir of molten rock beneath the earths crust. o Difference between magma and lava Magma is molten rock found below the earths surface Lava is magma that is ejected onto the earths surface Volcanoes can be found at divergent plate boundaries and convergent plate boundaries where there is subduction.

How are volcanoes formed?


1. Magma from the magma chamber rises to the surface through the vent. Magma is ejected onto the earths surface as lava. 2. Lava builds up around the vent, solidifying to form a small volcanic cone. The bowl-shaped opening is called the crater. 3. When a volcano erupts, lava, ash and rock fragments are released. The force of the volcanic eruption depends on the amount of pressure and gas in the magma. 4. The summit of a volcano may be blown off during an explosive eruption. The sides of the crater collapse inwards due to the loss of structural support. A large depression known as a caldera is formed as a result. 5. New eruption of lava covers the ash layer and builds up the volcano. 6. During the formation of the volcano, the vent may become blocked. This forces the magma to find a new exit route to surface. A secondary cone of newer volcanic material will then develop. Vulcanicity It is the upward movement of the magma both into the earths crust and onto the earths surface.

Shapes and sizes of volcanoes


Volcanoes vary in shapes and sizes due to the characteristics of lava. Low-silica lava has low viscosity while high-silica lava has high viscosity. Viscosity is the stickiness of the lava or its resistance to flow. o Low-silica lava Has low viscosity which results in less explosive volcanic eruptions. This type of lava allows gases to escape easily and flows more easily through the vent before reaching the surface. When it reaches the earths surface, the outer layer of the cooling lava forms a thin crust.

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High-silica lava Is more viscous. Traps gas more easily, resulting in a build-up of pressure below the earths surface. When the magma rises towards the earths surface, the gases are able to expand, causing an outward explosion. The volcanic eruption ejects lava, ash, rock fragments and gases into the surrounding environment. Different types of lava result in volcanoes of different sizes. Common type of volcanoes are: o Shield volcanoes Have gently sloping sides and a broad summit. Forms where low-silica lava has been ejected. Low-silica lava flows easily and will spread out over a large area before solidifying. As low-silica lava does not trap much gas, eruptions are usually not explosive. With more successive eruptions, the base of the volcano increases in size as lava accumulates. Shield volcanoes can be found at divergent plate boundaries where magma can rise directly from the mantle. An example of a shield volcano will be Mt. Elgon which was formed when the Nubian boundary diverged away from the Somalian boundary of the African Plate. o Stratovolcanoes Develop from successive eruptions of lava and ash. After an initial eruption, the subsequent eruption ejects lava which covers the soft ash and prevents it from being eroded away. Over time, successive eruptions build a higher volcano with a slightly concave profile. (which is steeper at the top and gentler at the base) Secondary cones are developed when magma from the vent seeps into the sides of the cone and erupts. An example of a stratovolcano will be Mt. Pinatubo which was formed when the denser Eurasian Plate subducted under the less dense Philippine Plate. Pyroclastic flow and lahars may result from volcanic eruptions. o Pyroclasts refer to hot rock fragments and super heated gases ejected during a volcanic eruption. The movement of these rock fragments and gases down a volcano is known as a pyroclastic flow. o Lahars refer to a mixture of pyroclasts and melted ice from the mountains. Lahars are wet volcanic debris flowing down the slopes of an erupting volcano.

Distribution of volcanoes
Volcanoes can be found along the Pacific Ring of Fire (converging plates) and at places where plates are diverging such as the Atlantic Ocean and East Africa (diverging plates).

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