Volcanoes are fascinating structures. If you don't believe me just check out the Ring of Fire. Oooooh, sounds cool doesn't it? Of course it's not literally a ring of fire, but a name for the many volcanoes circling the Pacific Ocean, but still cool none the less. As far as individual volcanoes go almost all of you have probably heard of the more famous volcanoes such as Mount St. Helens and Mount Vesuvius. You may not have heard of, however, Mount Katmai. Responsible for the biggest eruption in the twentieth century, Mount Katmai is definately worth knowing, and hey, if you're a history buff this massive explosion is yet another intersting history tid-bit.
First, let's start out with some general background information on volcanoes.
Not all volcanoes are the same. There isn't just one type of mountain the characterizes a Volcano, in fact, there are five. There are Sheild Volcanoes, Strato Volcanoes, Rhyolite caldera complexes, Monogenetic fields, and Flood Basalts (Rowland). Sheild volcanoes are volcanoes with broad, gentle slopes built by the eruption of fluid basalt lava (USGS Photo). Strato Volcanoes are Steep, conical volcanoes built by the eruption of viscous lava flows, tephra, and pyroclastic flows (USGS Photo). Rhyolite caldera complexes are the most explosive volcanoes on Earth, although they do not look like regular volcanoes. Upon eruption, they usually collapse upon themselves, forming a caldera (Rowland). Monogenetic fields are singlo volcanoes with eruptions spread over a large area, with collections of hundreds to thousands of seperate vents and flows. They result from a low supply of magma and are so spread out that when lava escapes it has to make its own path to the surface (Rowland). Finally, Flood basalts are slow moving, thick flows of Basalt (Rowland).
Sheild volcanoes are the largest volcanoes on Earth, and among the most famous. Several sheild volcanoes can be found on the islands of Hawaii, including the world's largest volcano, Muana Loa (Rowland). Sheild volcanoes may be the largest of all types volcanoes, but they certainly are not the most abundant. This title belongs to Stratovolcanoes. Stratovolcanoes account for roughly 60% of the volcanoes on Earth, maybe this could be the reason why they are responsible for the most volcano related deaths (Rowland). In case you were wondering, Mount Katmai happens to be a Strato volcano. For more information on Mount Katmai check out the About Katmai page. (Afterall, you are at this site to learn about Mount Katmai aren't you?)