Hawaii has ‘Shield Volcanoes’, What Are They?

Oct 25, 2018 | General Information

Of the various types of volcanoes found on the Earth, the least destructive of them are the Shield Volcanoes such as the ones found in Hawaii. These volcanoes are primarily made of basalt, which in its fluid state is less viscous or sticky and as an analogy it flows more like water than like honey. Because of this property of the lava it can run long distances before it cools and hence makes more of a dome shape similar to the shape a pile of sand would form if it were dumped from an excavator onto flat ground. Other types of volcanoes like composite volcanoes are made of different materials and are less fluid and thus tend to cool in place and form tall and fairly steep sided mountains. They also have a more explosive nature.

All the Hawaiian Islands are essentially ‘shield volcanoes’ and they are the largest volcanoes in the world. Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii is in fact the world’s largest volcano with a base on the seafloor of more than 100 miles and reaching a height of over 30,000 feet from the base of the ocean (measured in this way Mauna Kea is taller than even Mount Everest).

We are lucky here in Hawaii to have active volcanoes (on the Big Island) which are almost continuously erupting and provide a spectacle for visitors to view by either helicopter, flight-seeing plane, sightseeing tours and even on many occasions, by hikes. This is an activity that should not be missed on your vacation to Hawaii.