GEORGE CHAN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GEORGE CHAN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Lava in a vent of a shield volcano. Shield volcanoes are formed by constant flows of very fluid lava. The lava is able to flow quickly, covering a large distance, before solidifying. This gives a characteristic low slope to the side of the volcanic mound. Instead of a single crater, the volcano usually has many vents in its side such as the one seen here. The fluidity of the lava and the presence of vents means that shield volcanoes rarely suffer explosive eruptions. The vent seen here is Pu'u O'o on the flank of Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
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