There are a range of different types of volcanoes on Earth, from the wide and short shield volcanoes of Hawaii to the steep, tall and explosive stratovolcanoes found at the edges of tectonic plates (think the kind of volcano that destroyed Pompeii).
But have you ever considered the types of volcanoes that might exist on planets other than Earth?
On Earth, most of our volcanoes are driven by plate tectonics - the movement of large plates of the Earth's crust - where they collide or separate causing magma to be released from under the surface.
There can also be volcanoes in other locations, and these are known as hotspots - this is what drives the volcanoes of Hawaii. Hotspots are fed by an extra hot patch of mantle (what the Earth's crust sits on) bubbling up to the crust and being released.
On Earth, plate tectonics keeps the crust moving over the hotspot, which is why there is a chain of islands in Hawaii, not one giant mountain.
However, the tallest volcano in the Solar System is not on Earth. It is Olympus Mons on Mars. At 25 kilometres high with a diameter of 624 kilometres or over twice the size of Tasmania, it is a gigantic shield volcano that is no longer active.
Cliffs 6 kilometres tall surround the volcano making it even more imposing on the Martian landscape.
It is thought that Olympus Mons was formed by a gigantic hotspot, but since Mars doesn't have plate tectonics, it was able to grow to its massive size without interruption, instead of a bunch of smaller ones like Hawaii.
If we want to find even more exotic types of volcanoes, we need to search beyond the asteroid belt. Although the giant planets don't have volcanoes, their moons do, but not the kind that we are used to.
Io, the moon closest to Jupiter, is the most geologically active object in the Solar System, and its volcanoes are rocky and have a lot of sulphur, creating its signature yellow colour. Io's volcanoes aren't caused by tectonic plates and heat that comes from the core like Earth.
It is caused by tidal heating. Since Io is very close to Jupiter and orbits it so quickly, Io is dramatically affected by the gravity of Jupiter, meaning that as Io orbits, the whole thing gets pushed and pulled by Jupiter's gravity, making its insides hot.
Another moon with interesting volcanoes is Saturn's largest moon Titan, usually known for its thick nitrogen atmosphere and its liquid lakes and oceans on the surface.
Although the lakes and oceans of Titan aren't made of water - they are made of methane and ethane - its volcanoes are made of water.
Titan has what is called cryovolcanism meaning that instead of its volcanoes spewing out molten lava, they spew out water, ammonia, methane and similar substances.
Cryovolcanoes are important to our understanding of the structure of a lot of moons around the giant planet, and that under their hard icy shells they might have oceans of liquid water.
- Eloise Birchall holds a Master of Astronomy and Astrophysics from the Australian National University.
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