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Published by Faizan

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Published by: Faizan on Feb 10, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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is an opening, or rupture, in a planet's surface or crust, which allows hot,molten rock, ash, and gases to escape from below the surface. Volcanic activityinvolving theextrusionof rock tends to form mountains or features like mountains over a period of time.Volcanoes are generally found wheretectonic platesaredivergingor converging. A mid-oceanic ridge, for example theMid-Atlantic Ridge, has examples of volcanoes caused by "divergent tectonic plates" pulling apart; thePacific Ring of Firehas examples of volcanoes caused by "convergent tectonic plates" coming together. Bycontrast, volcanoes are usually not created where two tectonic plates slide past oneanother. Volcanoes can also form where there is stretching and thinning of theEarth's crust(called "non-hotspot intraplate volcanism"), such as in theAfrican Rift Valley, theWells Gray-Clearwater volcanic fieldand theRio Grande Riftin North America and the EuropeanRhineGrabenwith itsEifelvolcanoes. Volcanoes can be caused by "mantle plumes". These so-called "hotspots" , for example atHawaii, can occur far from plate boundaries. Hotspot volcanoes are also foundelsewhere in thesolar system, especially on rocky planets and moons.
Hotspotsare not usually located on the ridges of tectonic plates, butabovemantle plumes, where theconvectionof theEarth'smantle  creates a column of hot material that rises until it reaches the crust,which tends to be thinner than in other areas of theEarth. Thetemperature of the plume causes the crust to melt and form pipes,which can ventmagma. Because the tectonic plates move whereasthe mantle plume remains in the same place, each volcano becomesdormant after a while and a new volcano is then formed as the plateshifts over the hotspot. TheHawaiian Islandsare thought to beformed in such a manner, as well as theSnake River Plain, with theYellowstone Calderabeing the part of the North American platecurrently above the hotspot.

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