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Mount St. Helens

A volcano 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. Violent explosive eruptions from such vents often produce craters or calderas and coat extensive areas in volcanic ash, while the lava from comparatively gentle effusive eruptions may eventually form large plains, cones or mountains.

Volcanoes are generally found where tectonic plates are pulled apart or come together. A mid-oceanic ridge, such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, hosts volcanoes caused by divergent tectonic plates pulling apart; the Pacific Ring of Fire contains many volcanoes caused by convergent tectonic plates coming together. By contrast, volcanoes are not commonly created at transform boundaries, where two tectonic plates slide past one another.

Volcanoes can be caused by mantle plumes. The resulting hotspots, for example at Hawaii, can occur far from plate boundaries. Hotspot volcanoes are also found elsewhere in the solar system, especially on rocky planets and moons. Intraplate volcanoes can also form where there is stretching and thinning of the Earth's crust, as in the Wells Gray-Clearwater volcanic field and the Rio Grande Rift in North America and the European Rhine Graben with its Eifel volcanoes.

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A view of the Mount Cayley volcanic field. The Mount Cayley massif is the large mountain to the left and Mount Fee is the relatively small jagged peak to the far right.
The Mount Cayley volcanic field is a remote volcanic zone on the South Coast of British Columbia, Canada, stretching 31 km (19 mi) from the Pemberton Icefield to the Squamish River. It forms a segment of the Garibaldi Volcanic Belt, the Canadian portion of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, which extends from Northern California to southwestern British Columbia. Most of the Cayley volcanoes were formed during periods of volcanism under sheets of glacial ice throughout the last glacial period. These subglacial eruptions formed steep, flat-topped volcanoes and subglacial lava domes, most of which have been entirely exposed by deglaciation. However, at least two volcanoes predate the last glacial period and both are highly eroded. The field gets its name from Mount Cayley, the largest and most persistent volcano, located at the southern end of the Powder Mountain Icefield. This icefield covers much of the central portion of the volcanic field and is one of the several glacial fields in the Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains.


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Thomas Jaggar
Thomas Jaggar is a prominent 20th century volcanologist. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1871, son of an Episcopal Bishop. In 1897, he received his Ph.D. in geology from Harvard University. He spent the next few years as a scientist in the laboratory. He felt strongly that experimentation was the key to understanding earth science. Jaggar constructed water flumes bedded by sand and gravel in order to understand stream erosion and melted rocks in furnaces to study the behavior of magmas.

After a lecture on his Martinique expedition in Honolulu, Jaggar was approached by Lorrin A. Thurston a prominent Honolulu lawyer and businessman. Thurston, like Jaggar, believed that Kilauea was a prime site for a permanent volcano observatory and inquired of Jaggar, "Is it then a question of money?". Within a year of this conversation, Thurston and other businessmen raised financial backing for the Hawaii Volcano Research Association. A small observing station was set up on the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu crater (a pit crater within Kilauea's summit caldera). In 1912, support was forthcoming from an MIT alumnus and construction of the new Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) began.

Jaggar remained Director of HVO until 1940. The Thomas A. Jaggar Museum in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is named for him.

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Bathymetry of the Galápados hotspot

Volcanoes topics

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Core topics: Volcano  • Volcanology  • Igneous petrology  • Lava  • Magma  • Decade Volcanoes  • List of volcanoes  • Plate tectonics  • Hotspot

Types of volcanoes: Fissure vent  • Shield volcano  • Lava dome  • Cinder cone  • Stratovolcano  • Supervolcano  • Submarine volcano  • Subglacial volcano  • Mud volcano

Types of eruptions: (Overview)  • Strombolian  • Vulcanian  • Peléan  • Hawaiian  • Surtseyan  • Plinian  • Submarine  • Subglacial  • Phreatic

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Rift zone on Mount Tarawera
Credit: Avenue

View of the summit fissure created by the explosive 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera in New Zealand. Deteriorating scoria cliffs surround the rift.

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"I have seen so many eruptions in the last 20 years that I don't care if I die tomorrow."

— Maurice Krafft, on the day before he was killed by a pyroclastic flow on Unzen Volcano, Japan, 1991.


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The current Project collaboration is Mount Shasta.

The project collaboration is a drive to improve our coverage of an important volcano-related topic. Once the article has been improved significantly, a new collaboration is chosen. Please improve the article any way you can.

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Featured articles: 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens  • 2007–2008 Nazko earthquakes  • Amchitka  • Armero tragedy  • Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve  • Cerro Azul (Chile volcano)  • David A. Johnston  • Enceladus (moon)  • Geology of the Lassen volcanic area  • Io (moon)  • Loihi Seamount  • Mauna Kea  • Mauna Loa  • Metacomet Ridge  • Mono-Inyo Craters  • Mount Cayley volcanic field  • Mount St. Helens  • Mount Tambora  • Nevado del Ruiz  • Surtsey  • The Volcano (British Columbia)  • Triton (moon)  • Upper and Lower Table Rock  • Volcanism on Io  • Volcano (South Park)  • Yellowstone National Park

Featured lists: List of volcanoes in Indonesia  • List of volcanoes in the Hawaiian – Emperor seamount chain  • List of largest volcanic eruptions

Featured pictures: There are currently 43 volcano-related Featured pictures. A full gallery can be seen here.

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Good articles: Abyssal plain  • Amak Volcano  • Anahim hotspot  • Axial Seamount  • Ben Nevis  • Bowie Seamount  • Crater Lake  • Davidson Seamount  • Ferdinandea  • Gareloi Volcano  • Geyser  • Glacier Peak  • Hawaii hotspot  • Hualālai  • Kohala (mountain)  • Lake Toba  • Minoan eruption  • Mount Adams (Washington)  • Mount Bailey  • Mount Baker  • Mount Cleveland (Alaska)  • Mount Edziza volcanic complex  • Mount Garibaldi  • Mount Hood  • Mount Kenya  • Mount Rainier  • Mount Redoubt  • Mount Tehama  • Mount Thielsen  • Mount Vesuvius  • Peter I Island  • Roxy Ann Peak  • Rùm  • Sakurajima  • Sangay  • Silverthrone Caldera  • Staffa  • Types of volcanic eruptions  • Volcanic ash  • Weh Island  • Wells Gray-Clearwater volcanic field  • Yamsay Mountain

Valued pictures: A gallery of volcano-related valued pictures can be seen here.

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