Shield volcano

Shield volcano

A shield volcano is a large volcano with shallow-sloping sides. The name derives from a translation of "Skjaldbreiður", 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 in terms of area covered is Mauna Loa of Hawaii; the tallest measured from its base under the ocean, however, is Mauna Kea of Hawaii. All the volcanoes in the Hawaiian Islands are shield volcanoes.

Geographical extent

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. Shield volcanoes can be found in many places around the world, including Australia, Ethiopia, and the Galapagos Islands. The "Piton de la Fournaise", on Reunion Island, is one of the most 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.


*Mount Edziza volcanic complex (British Columbia, Canada)
*Mauna Kea (Hawaii, US)
*Mauna Loa (Hawaii, US)
*Ilgachuz Range (British Columbia, Canada)
*Rainbow Range (British Columbia, Canada)
*Itcha Range (British Columbia, Canada)
*Kilauea (Hawaii, US)
*Menengai (Mengenai, Ethiopia)
*Medicine Lake Volcano (California, US)
*Lunar dome (Moon)
*Mount Moulton (Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica)
*Mount Andrus (Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica)
*Mount Okmok (Umnak Island, Alaska, US)
*Indian Heaven (Washington, US)
*Mount Warning (or the Tweed Volcano), (New South Wales, Australia)
*Verkhovoy (Kamchatka, Russia)
*Olympus Mons (Mars)
*Level Mountain Range (British Columbia, Canada)
*Lord Howe Island (Pacific Ocean, Australia)
*Mount Sanford (Alaska, US)
*Mount Elgon (Uganda/Kenya)
*Three Fingered Jack (Oregon, US)
*Kohala (Hawaii, US)
*Mount Berlin (Antarctica)
*Queen Mary's Peak (Atlantic ocean)


* [ List of shield volcanoes]
* [ Photo glossary of volcano terms - USGS]
* [ Shield volcanoes - USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory]
* [ Shield Volcanoes - Volcano World]

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  • shield volcano — ALASKA VOLCANO OBSERVATORY GLOSSARY A gently sloping volcano in the shape of a flattened dome and built almost exclusively of lava flows. GLOSSARY OF VOLCANIC TERMS A broad, low relief volcano constructed by flows of relatively fluid lava (e.g.… …   Glossary of volcanic terms

  • shield volcano — /ˈʃild vɒlkeɪnoʊ/ (say sheeld volkaynoh) noun a volcano formed by repeated rapid flows of lava of low viscosity so that it becomes very broad but with shallow sloping sides; more or less in the shape of a round shield. Compare stratovolcano …   Australian-English dictionary

  • shield volcano — noun Date: 1911 a broad rounded volcano that is built up by successive outpourings of very fluid lava …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • shield volcano — noun A large volcano, with shallow sloping sides and a flattened dome, formed of successive eruptions of free flowing lava; a lava dome …   Wiktionary

  • shield volcano —    A volcano having the shape of a very broad, gently sloping dome, built by flows of very fluid basaltic lava or rhyolitic ash flows.    Compare: stratovolcano.    GG & MA …   Glossary of landform and geologic terms

  • shield volcano — noun Geology a very broad volcano with gently sloping sides …   English new terms dictionary

  • shield volcano — noun : a volcano built up by successive outpourings of lava with little or no fragmental material and consequently having a diameter at its base many times as great as its height contrasted with stratovolcano; compare basalt dome …   Useful english dictionary

  • shield volcano —   a volcanic cone made up of multiple layers of basaltic lava …   Geography glossary

  • Volcano Winery — is one of three commercial wineries in the U.S. state of Hawaii, and the first winery founded on the Big Island of Hawaii in the town of Volcano, Hawai i, at the base of the active shield volcano Kīlauea. It is the southernmost winery in the… …   Wikipedia

  • volcano — /vol kay noh/, n., pl. volcanoes, volcanos. 1. a vent in the earth s crust through which lava, steam, ashes, etc., are expelled, either continuously or at irregular intervals. 2. a mountain or hill, usually having a cuplike crater at the summit,… …   Universalium

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