How Are Volcanoes Formed? Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 What Is A Volcano?
  • 0:49 How Are Volcanoes Formed?
  • 1:43 What's In A Volcano?
  • 2:16 Why Do Volcanoes Look…
  • 2:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dacia Upkins

Dacia has taught all core elementary subjects for 14 years with a Master's degree in Urban Teacher Leadership.

Volcanoes are one of Earth's most magnificent land features. In this lesson, you'll learn about volcanoes, how they're formed, what's inside them, and why some volcanoes look different than others.

What Is a Volcano?

What do you say to an upset volcano? You seem a little hot-headed right now! Heat does play a large part in the creation of volcanoes. The process starts deep within the earth, which is made of several layers, including the core in the middle, the mantle above the core, and the crust at the surface of the earth.

The top part of the mantle is made of very hot melted rock called magma. Above that is Earth's crust, which is broken in huge pieces of rock called plates. These plates float very slowly on the mantle - we're talking just a couple of centimeters a year. A volcano is a type of mountain that is created when some of that magma travels up through the plates to the earth's surface.

How Are Volcanoes Formed?

The earth's plates move in different ways, and sometimes these movements can help to create volcanoes. Sometimes, the plates collide into each other. This is called a destructive plate boundary. Other times, an oceanic plate collides with a continental plate, causing the oceanic plate to slide under the other. When this happens, some of the magma rises to the top. And when it happens over and over in the same spot, a volcano is created and grows with every eruption.

Earth's plates can also move away from each other to create a volcano. This is called a constructive plate boundary. As the plates move apart, magma rises up through the newly created gap. The magma eventually cools off, creating new crust. Just like with destructive plate boundaries, volcanoes are created this way when the process happens repeatedly in the same location.

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