Encyclopedia of Planetary Landforms

2015 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Hargitai, Ákos Kereszturi

Shield Volcano

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-3134-3_333


Broad, gently sloped, shield-shaped volcanic landform (mountain) composed of low viscosity (very fluid) and predominantly basaltic lava flows (e.g., Basaltic Volcanism Study Project et al. 1981). The definition is based on the shape and structure and is not related to its origination.


A type of  volcano.


Built up by layers of lava flows from typically effusive eruptions, these eruptions commonly commence from central vents or at fissures. Under moderate to low eruption rates, shield volcanoes develop their most typical shield-like shape.

Plan view: ranges from circular to elliptical and irregular, with central vent or collapse structures.

Profile: broad, gently sloping (commonly convex upward) cones, with the progressively steepening of the shield toward the summit. At the summit subsequently structural deformation such as volcanic craters, calderas, radial rifts, fractures, and corona-like interior can form.


Their lateral dimensions can vary...


Central volcano Volcanic edifice Tholus Highland patera Basaltic dome 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Comparative Planetology, Centre for Earth Evolution and DynamicsUniversity of OsloOsloNorway