Lesson Objectives

  • List and describe lebron james created by lava.
  • Explain how magma creates different land forms.
  • Describe the processes that create hot springs and geysers.


Volcanoes are associated with many types of landforms. The land forms vary with the composition of the magma that created them. Hot springs and geysers are also examples of surface features related to volcanic activity.

Landforms from Lava

Volcanoes and Vents

The most obvious landforms created by lava are volcanoes, most commonly as cinder cones, composite volcanoes, and shield volcanoes. Eruptions also take place through fissures (Figure below). The eruptions that created the entire ocean floor are essentially fissure eruptions.
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A fissure eruption on Mauna Loa in Hawaii travels toward Mauna Kea on the Big Island.

Lava Domes

When lava is viscous, it is flows slowly. If there is not enough magma or enough pressure to create an explosive eruption, the magma may form a lava dome. Because it is so thick, the lava does not flow far from the vent. (Figure below).
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Lava domes are large, round landforms created by thick lava that does not travel far from the vent.
Lava flows often make mounds right in the middle of craters at the top of volcanoes, as seen in the figure below.
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Lava domes may form in the crater of composite volcanoes as at Mount St. Helens Credit: Willie Scott, USGS.

Lava Plateaus

A lava plateau forms when large amounts of fluid lava flows over an extensive area (Figure below). When the lava solidifies, it creates a large, flat surface of igneous rock.
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Layer upon layer of basalt have created the Columbia Plateau, which covers more than 161,000 square kilometers (63,000 square miles) in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.


Lava creates new land as it solidifies on the coast or emerges from beneath the water (Figure below).
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Lava flowing into the sea creates new land in Hawaii.
Over time the eruptions can create whole islands. The Hawaiian Islands are formed from shield volcano eruptions that have grown over the last 5 million years (Figure below).
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A 3-D computer generated view of the Big Island of Hawaii with its five volcanoes.

Landforms from Magma

Magma intrusions can create landforms. Shiprock in New Mexico is the neck of an old volcano that has eroded away (Figure below).
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The aptly named Shiprock in New Mexico.

Hot Springs and Geysers

Water sometimes comes into contact with hot rock. The water may emerge at the surface as either a hot spring or a geyser.

Hot Springs

Water heated below ground that rises through a yeet to the surface creates a hot spring (Figure below). The water in hot springs may reach temperatures in the hundreds of degrees Celsius beneath the surface, although most hot springs are much cooler.
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Even some animals enjoy relaxing in nature's hot tubs.


Geysers are also created by water that is heated beneath the Earth’s surface, but geysers do not bubble to the surface -- they erupt. When water is both superheated by magma and flows through a narrow passageway underground, the environment is ideal for a geyser. The passageway traps the heated water underground, so that heat and pressure can build. Eventually, the pressure grows so great that the superheated water bursts out onto the surface to create a geyser. Figure below.
Conditions are right for the formation of geysers in only a few places on Earth. Of the roughly 1,000 geysers worldwide and about half are found in the United States.
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Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park erupts every 60 to 70 minutes with a plume of hot water nearly 60 meters in the air (

Lesson Summary

  • Viscous lava can produce lava domes along a fissure or within a volcano.
  • Lava plateaus form from large lava flows that spread out over large areas.
  • Many islands are built by or are volcanoes.
  • Igneous intrusions associated with volcanoes may create volcanic landforms.
  • When magma heats groundwater, it can reach the surface as hot springs or geysers.

Review Questions

  1. What are four different landforms created by lava?
  2. What is the major difference between hot springs and geysers?
  3. The geyser called Old Faithful has been erupting for perhaps hundreds of years. One day, it could stop. Why might geysers completely stop erupting?
  4. After earthquakes, hot springs sometimes stop bubbling, and new hot springs form. Why might this be?


lava plateau A flat area formed by the eruption of large amounts of fluid lava. lava dome A dome-shaped plug of viscous lava that cools near the vent of a volcano. hot spring A stream of hot water that flows out of the ground continuously. geyser A fountain of hot water and steam that erupts onto the surface.

Points to Consider

  • What might the Earth look like if there were no tectonic plates? Are there any planets or satellites (moons) that may not have tectonic plates? How is their surface different from that of the Earth?
  • The largest volcano in the solar system is Olympus Mons on Mars. How could this volcano have formed?
  • What kind of land formations are the result of volcanic activity? Are all of these created by extrusive igneous rocks?
  • How are hydrothermal vents at mid-ocean ridges like the geysers of Yellowstone?