Our Volcanoes for Kids webpages contain fascinating facts about notorious volcanoes like Vesuvius and Krakatoa. The eruption of Vesuvius destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum that were two resort towns in Italy for wealthy Roman families. The eruption is the first known accurate account of the eruption of an explosive volcano. The two papers written by Pliny the Younger, a 17 year old Roman nobleman, for the historian Tacitus are the only known accounts of the eruption. His description of the ash cloud was named for him. Plinian eruptions are mushroom shaped clouds that form during violent eruptions.
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The Krakatoa eruption was the first time researchers realized that pyroclastic flows could travel across the surface of the ocean to distant islands. The eruption caused devastating tsunamis to sweep across the ocean killing an unknown number of people. Some of the tsunami waves reached the British Isles.
Composite volcanoes form in subduction zones that ring the Pacific Ocean. There are so many volcanoes that the horseshoe shaped ring is called the Pacific Ring of Fire. On the continental side of these subduction zones great composite (stratovolcanoes) grow to great heights. On the ocean side of the subduction zones are thousands of seamounts. The Alaskan volcanoes all formed in a subduction zone in the Ring of Fire as the Pacific Plate subducts beneath the North American Plate in the North Pacific Ocean.
Subduction zones are places where the oceanic plates are recycled as they are forced beneath the lighter continental plates. The leading edge of the oceanic plate melts and the molten rock collects in magma chambers to erupt as new rocks on our planet. On the opposite side of the oceanic plate is a divergent boundary where new oceanic crust forms. These are the newest rocks on our planet.
The Pacific Ocean basin is the home of towering composite volcanoes, shield volcanoes and thousands of submarine volcanoes. Submarine volcanoes have formed over hot spots in the middle of the Pacific Plate. Study the map and see if you can find the Hawaiian Ridge and the Hawaiian-Emperor seamounts. The tracks of the seamounts can be seen all the way from the Hawaiian Islands to the Aleutian Trench in the North Pacific Ocean.
Find out about the size of Mauna Loa volcano that has been considered the largest shield volcano on our planet until 2013 when a report was published about Tamu Massif. Today geologists believe Tamu Massif is a great deal larger than Mauna Loa. It is being compared to Olympus Mons, the largest known volcano in our Solar System that is located on Mars.
All volcanoes erupt molten rock during volcanic eruptions. The huge size of Mauna Loa and Tamu Massif are the result of molten rock from the upper mantle flowing out of a volcano vent onto the ocean floor. The basalt lava is very fluid and forms thin layers of lava on the flanks of these huge shield volcanoes. The result is a shield shaped volcano with a broad base and gently sloping sides.
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