How are Volcanic Mountains Formed? - Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:03 What Is a Volcano?
  • 0:37 How Are Volcanoes Formed?
  • 1:01 Subduction Zones
  • 1:40 Divergent Zones
  • 2:03 Hotspots
  • 2:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lindsey Spencer

Lindsey has taught regular and special educations students in grades 1-8 since 2009 and has a master's degree in special education.

Volcanic mountains are formed by magma rising up from the mantle to the crust of the earth. In this lesson, you'll learn about how volcanic mountains are formed through subduction zones, divergent zones, and hotspots.

What Is a Volcano?

Have you ever looked at a mountain and wondered if it was a volcano? The good news is that most mountains were never volcanoes, or they might have been volcanoes thousands of years ago, but not anymore. Why would that be good news? A volcano is a mountain that has an opening that goes deep into the earth to the mantle, the area of the inner earth where there is liquid rock. Pressure inside the volcano builds and builds, until the mountain can't hold it any longer, and boom! The volcano erupts!

How Are Volcanoes Formed?

Volcanoes can be formed in several ways. They are all related to tectonic plates. The layer of the earth we live on is called the crust. It is made up of several giant chunks of crust that float on the layer below the crust, the mantle, which is liquid rock called magma. These chunks of crust are the tectonic plates.

Subduction Zones

When one tectonic plate runs into another tectonic plate, sometimes one plate will start to slide under the other plate. This is called a subduction zone. When the friction between the two plates becomes too much, a pool of liquid rock will build up under a weak spot on the earth. After a long time, the pressure becomes too much, a hole opens, and then lava, gas, and dust erupt from the hole. All that stuff forms a mountain shape, or a cone. After a long time and several eruptions, the cone becomes a very tall mountain. This is the most common way volcanic mountains are formed.

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