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This lesson will teach you about cinder cone volcanoes, and what sets them apart from other types of volcanoes.

You will learn how they form, and will also learn about some well-known cinder cones.

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What Is a Cinder Cone Volcano?

Could you imagine working in a yard or field and suddenly the ground swells up next to you? How about if that bulge broke open, and started spewing hot gases and lava into the air? It sounds too scary to be true, but this has actually happened! If you were around to see it, you would be witnessing the birth of a cinder cone volcano.Cinder cone volcanoes are the smallest type of volcano. They are rarely more than 1,000 feet tall. Cinder cone volcanoes often form on the surface of larger volcanoes, creating a very active surface. They usually do not erupt for very long.

Cinder Cone Formation

Cinder cone volcanoes form when molten rock, called magma, pushes through a single opening in the Earth’s surface.

Once the magma has left the ground, it is called lava. Lava shoots out of the ground, falls around the opening, and then cools. The cooled pieces of lava are called cinders.

The cinders pile up to form a hill with an opening, called a crater, in the center.

Famous Cinder Cones

One of the most famous cinder cone volcanoes sits in Oregon’s Crater Lake. The lake formed when a huge volcanic explosion caused the ground to collapse, forming a crater.

That crater is now filled with water. A cinder cone, named Wizard Island, developed as eruptions occurred in the basin. The island reaches over 700 feet above the water’s surface.Another famous cinder cone, called Paricutin, formed in a Mexican cornfield in 1943.

Farm workers watched as a bulge formed in the ground. The bulge started to vent gases, meaning it would soon erupt. Everyone near the new volcano had to evacuate. One year later, the volcano was over 1,000 feet tall.

It continued to erupt until 1952, and has not erupted since.

Cinder Cone Hazards

The biggest threat to the people and surrounding areas of a cinder cone volcano is hot lava. The eruptions that form cinder cones can shoot lava high into the air, and send it flowing for miles.

That’s why eruption zones are closed off to people.

Lesson Summary

Cinder cone volcanoes form when lava erupts from a single opening in the ground. The eruption forms a hill with a crater in the center. Cinder cone volcanoes are usually less than 1,000 feet tall and they often form on the sides of larger, more complex volcanoes.

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