Spatter Cone Volcanoes

How they are formed

Spatter cones are one of the main types of volcanic type landforms. They are made from lava that was ejected from a vent. The spatter cones are easy to distinguish especially during eruption. Unlike some volcanoes that produce lava flow during eruption, the eruptions in spatter cones are similar to explosion.

Kilauea Volcano

Kilauea Volcano

The mound or hill is the cone when talking about spatter cones. It has a vent at the center through which the gas and rocks would be expelled. There is usually a fissure near or surrounding the vent. The fissures serve as drainage for lava after an eruption. Sometimes, these linear fissures may also erupt forming a spatter rampart instead of a cone.




As extremely hot gases liquefy the rocks, hot clots or blobs called spatters are formed and they are thrown up to 25 meters high. Each clot is small with diameters ranging from one to 50 centimeters. They will soon fall back and would form a mound around the vent. The process is abrupt that the melted rocks seem to splash. The spatters are normally in liquid form when they land but would cool down and weld with each other forming the mound or cone. Most of the time, the blobs of lava will instantly cool down and stick to one another just as they land. They rarely roll or flow down which is why most spatter cones are steep. It could be as high as 50 meters although they are vulnerable and easily break. This is why most spatter cones are off limits for hikers or tourists in many places.

Spatter Cone Example

To have splashes of liquefied rocks, the volcano must have liquid magma. Such types of volcanoes are usually found in the Hawaiian Islands such as Mount Kilauea. It has several spatter cones one of which has a 30-cm diameter that erupted in 1992.

By David Olmstead

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