Volcanoes: A Geologic Wonder Essay

1561 words - 6 pages

What exactly is a volcano? A volcano is "A vent in the surface of the Earth through which magma and associated gases and ash erupt; also, the form or structure (usually conical) that is produced by the ejected material". Trough many discussions on volcanoes in class I decided it's not really as simple as a definition. The reason is because the science and history of volcanoes is much more complex. People like to describe volcanism in terms of an eruption and its results. There is much more needed to know in order to truly understand the complexity of volcanoes. Volcanoes play an integral role in the earth's history.Volcanoes can be found where the earth's crust grows thin or places far away from plate boundaries called "hot spots". Volcanoes are typically found where tectonic plates converge or diverge. The moving plates cause swelling in the earth's crust. A few good places to find convergent plates are Mount Vesuvius, Mount Etna, and the Pacific Ring of Fire. Plates underneath these mountains are stacked on top of each other causing the crust to swell. The force and friction of the 2 moving plates causes magma to erupt forming a volcano. This type of converging cause some of the worlds largest volcanoes to form, Mt. Etna being the worlds largest.Divergent boundaries are formed when to plates spread apart from each other and the friction causes molten hot lava to form new volcanoes. A large example of this would be the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. These underwater mountain ranges are found in the Atlantic and Artic oceans. This is how many islands are formed all over the world. This divergent boundary was first formed in the Triassic period when a series of grabens collided with the super continent Pangaea. A graben is a small valley or ditch. To this day the plates continue to move making the mountain ridge larger and larger as time passes.There are many different types of volcanism. Hot spot volcanism is caused by mantle plumes. Mantle plumes occur when there is a gush of hot rock within the Earth's mantle. A chain of volcanic islands might be formed when a lithospheric plate moves over a hotspot. An example of this is the Hawaiian Islands."The volcanoes of the Hawaiian chain should get progressively older and become more eroded the farther they travel beyond the hotspot. The oldest volcanic rocks on Kauai, the northwesternmost inhabited Hawaiian island, are about 5.5 million years old and are deeply eroded. By comparison, on the "Big Island" of Hawaii -- southeasternmost in the chain and presumably still positioned over the hotspot -- the oldest exposed rocks are less than 0.7 million years old and new volcanic rock is continually being formed" (Pubs).I find this to be very interesting because u can track the slow movement of the plates just by observing the age of the island's volcanic rocks. More than a hundred hotspots beneath the Earth's crust have been active during the past 10 million years. Most of these are located under plate interiors like...

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