Types of Volcanoes Present on Earth
Volcanoes get their name from the Greek word Vulcano. "To the ancient Greeks, Vulcano was Hiera Hephaistou…to the ancient Romans it was the home of the forges of Vulcan; to both Vulcano was the lair of the god of fire" (Bullard 1984). Since then the myths have all gone but the name Vulcano has remained as the symbol for all volcanoes.
"A volcano is both the place and opening from which molten rock, solid rock or gas issues from a planetary interior" (Scarth 1994). It is also defined as the mountain or hill built up around the opening at the surface by an accumulation of the ejected materials.
Sources of molten rock below the surface of the earth is called a magma reservoir, magma being the term given to molten or semi-molten rock below ground level. The magma travels up to the surface from the magma reservoir through conduits and emerges at the surface through volcanic vents (Fig 1).
If the eruption happens to be explosive the magma is ejected from the vent as a dense cloud of volcanic ash, bombs and other forms of pyroclastic rock. When the eruption is non-explosive, it is said to be effusive and the magma issues from the volcano as lava.
In the following paragraphs the different types of volcanoes that are present on Earth will be looked at and discussed. Such as the lava domes, calderas and shield volcanoes.
Types of Volcanoes
Fig 2: Schematic representation of the internal structure of a typical volcanic
One type of volcano is the lava dome. These are formed by relatively small, round masses of lava too thick to flow any great distance. As a result on extrusion, the lava piles over and around its vent. The dome grows largely by expansion from within. As it grows its outer surface cools and hardens, then shatters, spilling loose fragments down its sides. "Although they are much less common than Cinder cones, it has been calculated with admirable precision that 217 domes have been formed in the past 10,000 years" (Scarth 1994).
The shapes of most Lava domes are determined by the way they grow and solidify. They grow from below when viscous lava wells up the vent and then solidify from their outer layers inwards. As the dome forms there is a conflict between the upward-surging, plastic mass and the solid, outer shell of brittle rock, which prevent expansion. Great upsurges can overcome the strength of the outer shell and cause its crest to burst open and emit molten material, while at the same time gas is also released. The appearance of a dome ultimately depends on the interplay of upwelling, explosion and solidification.
The Novarupta Dome, which formed during the 1912 eruption of the Katmai Volcano in Alaska, measured 800 feet across and 200 feet high. The internal structure of Novarupta indicated by the layering of lava fanning upward and outward from the center shows that it grew largely by expansion from within.
Figure 3: The Novarupta Dome...