Mount Etna, Mount Saint Helens, and Mauna Loa are breathtaking sights. Volcanoes are interesting land forms, but they are not all alike. Some are tall and cone-shaped. Others have gently sloping sides.
A volcano's shape depends on how violent the eruption is. The material that forms the volcano also has an effect on its shape. The three basic types of volcanoes are cinder cone, shield, and composite.
Cinder cone volcanoes form from violent eruptions. Cinders and rocks explode high into the air. They rain back down to the surface and pile loosely around the vent. They form a cone with a narrow base and steep sides. Cinder cone volcanoes are usually not more than 500 meters high. They can form on or near larger volcanoes.