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Volcanoes in Indonesia

The geography of Indonesia is dominated by volcanoes that are formed due to subduction zones between the Eurasian plate and the Indo-Australian plate. Some of the volcanoes are notable for their eruptions, for instance, Krakatau for its global effects in 1883, Lake Toba for its supervolcanic eruption estimated to have occurred 74,000 Before Present which was responsible for six years of volcanic winter, and Mount Tambora for the most violent eruption in recorded history in 1815.


Shield volcanoes
Information about shield volcanoes

A shield volcano is a large volcano with shallowly-sloping sides. The name derives from a translation of "Skjaldbreiđur", an Icelandic shield volcano whose name means "broad shield," from its resemblance to a warrior's shield. Shield volcanoes are formed by lava flows of low viscosity — lava that flows easily. Consequently, a volcanic mountain having a broad profile is built up over time by flow after flow of relatively fluid basaltic lava issuing from vents or fissures on the surface of the volcano.

Many of the largest volcanoes on Earth are shield volcanoes. The largest is Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii; all the volcanoes in the Hawaiian Islands are shield volcanoes. Shield volcanoes can be so large that they are sometimes considered to be a mountain range, such as the Ilgachuz Range and the Rainbow Range, both of which are located in Canada. These shield volcanoes formed when the North American Plate moved over a hotspot similar to the one feeding the Hawaiian Islands, called the Anahim hotspot. There are also shield volcanoes, for example, in Washington, Oregon, and the Galapagos Islands. The Piton de la Fournaise, on Reunion Island, is one of the more active shield volcanoes on earth, with one eruption per year on average.

The viscosity of magma as it approaches the surface is dependent on its temperature and composition. Shield volcanoes in the Hawaiian Islands erupt magma as hot as 1,200 °C (2,200 °F), compared with 850 °C (1,560 °F) for most continental volcanoes, which are usually composed of acidic lava. Because of the fluidity of the lava, major explosive eruptions do not occur. The most severe explosions occur if water enters a vent, although expanding gases in the magma can produce spectacular fountaining of the low viscosity lava.

Shield volcanoes are known to form on other planets. The largest known mountain in the solar system, Olympus Mons on Mars, is a shield volcano thought to be extinct. Shield volcanoes on Mars are higher and much more massive than those on Earth, likely due to lack of tectonic plates on Mars.
On Earth, because of plate tectonics, hotspot volcanoes eventually move away from the source of their magma and the volcanoes are individually less massive than might otherwise be the case. Shield volcanoes usually occur along constructive boundaries or above hotspots. However, the numerous large shield volcanoes of the Cascades of northern California and Oregon are over a more complex environment.


All text in this article is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
Last revised on November 11, 2009
    
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