Cinder Cone

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What is Cinder Cone?

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Do you know that around 80% of the origin of the Earth is volcanic in nature? Volcanoes are the phenomenon that is open at the surface with molten lava and due to pressure, an eruption occurs. Whenever we think of volcanoes, we think of cone type structures or a mountain where sudden eruptions occur and which cause a lot of destruction. The eruption of the volcano leads to other natural disasters as well such as floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, rock falling, etc. In this article, we will be covering about one kind of volcano i.e. cinder volcano. We will learn about its meaning, definition, characteristics, examples all over the world and its lava effects as well.


A volcano is an opening in the earth's crust through which lava and volcanic ash and gases come out. Beneath the volcano, magma in the liquid form containing dissolved gases. It rises through cracks on the earth's surface. As the magma comes outside and the pressure becomes low which can allow gases to make bubbles. A pressure that is built up in the earth's crust is released by things such as plate movements which allow the molten rock to explode into the air causing a volcanic eruption. There are mainly four types of volcanoes which are cinder cones, composite volcanoes, shield volcanoes and lava domes. Out of these four, we come to read about the cinder cones and their eruptions. This is also known as ash and cinder volcano.

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Cinder Cone Volcano

Cinder cones are the first kind of volcanoes and are the most common and also simplest types of volcanoes. They are made from the particles & blobs of concealed lava ejected from a single vent. As the gas-charged lava is coming out violently into the air. It breaks into the small particles that solidify and fall as cinders around the vent from a circular or oval cone. This effect is also called a fire fountain. This cone is also known as the scoria cone, the volcano which is composed of volcanic cinders (scoria). It can sometimes be a hundred metres high.

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Cinder Cone Definition

Some of the standard definitions of cinder cones are given below:

  • "Cinder Cone is a conical hill formed by the accumulation of volcanic debris around a vent." - Merriam-Webster.

  • "Cinder Cone in Geology is a small, conical volcano built of ash and cinders." - Collins Dictionary.


Every kind of volcano contains different features. The various characteristics of the Cinder Cone volcano are given below:

  • These types of cones are also known as scoria cones and exactly resemble the image whenever we think about a volcano.

  • Mostly, it is symmetrical in nature but can be asymmetrical as well whenever rocks get collected at one side only because of the flow of the wind during the eruption.

  • They are the simplest type of volcano that has cone type shape along with steep sides and are made up of igneous rocks.

  • It has low altitudes i.e 300 - 1200 ft. and it ejects lava from one vent and lava spread outwards.

  • Depending upon the geographical activities, it is built up over a period of years or even months as well.

  • Generally, they are found as a single volcano but can be found around larger volcanoes as well. 

  • These types of cones can grow very quickly but do not become so giant and just remain a few hundred metres high.

  • On the volcanic spectrum, they are present in between shield volcanoes and composite volcanic eruptions.

  • These types of volcano are made up of fragmented pyroclastic material which is known as tephra which is chunky and gives a cinder appearance.

Lava Effects

  • Cinder cones generally consist of a highly fluid blastic type of lava.

  • A small explosion of short durations can be seen which is generally known as strombolian eruptions and these fountains of lava usually shoot in the air up to 100 to 1500 feet. 

  • The lava creates tephra around the vent as it cools down before landing.

  • The fall of these lava bombs in this type of volcano can be dangerous and can cause injuries or death if someone gets closer to it.

  • The other effect or danger of the cinder cones is the way their lava flows. When gases have been released then volcanic eruptions produce running lava and it can spread to a lot of kilometres and can destroy large areas of land. It also affects and damages the soil, biodiversity, surrounding beauty, species and humans as well.

Cinder Cone Volcano Examples

These types of volcanoes are generally found on all the continents and some of the examples are given here:

  • In Asia, cinder cones can be found in Japan, the Philippines or Turkey and Russia. For example, Mount Suribachi or Mount Omuro in Japan, Smith, Taal, Mount Mayabobo in the Philippines whereas Kostakan, Balagan Tas, in Russia and Kula in Turkey, etc.

  • In Europe, you can find cinder cones in Iceland, France and Italy. For example, Puy de Pariou, Puy de Lassolas, etc in France, Hverfjall in Iceland and Monte Nuovo in Italy.

  • A number of cinder cones can be seen in North America. For example, Tseax cone, Buck hill, Cache hill, Dragon cone, Eve Cone, El jorullo, Paricutin, Mount Gordan, Mount Talbert, Koko crater, etc.

  • In Oceania, Mount Leura, Mount Fox, and Mount Elephant in Australia and Mount Eden, Mount Willingdon, etc in New Zealand are examples of cinder cones.

  • In South America, the Central volcanic zone in Peru, Central, Austral and Southern volcanic zones in Chile, and Puna Pau in Easter islands, are examples of cinder cones.

  • In Antarctica, the Royal Society Volcano is an example of the cinder cone.

Fun Fact

One of the most famous cinder cones in the world is Paricutin which is present in Mexico and it surged suddenly from the cornfield of Mexico in 1943 and gained global and scientific fame and attention. Its elevation is 2800 metres whereas the last eruption occurred in 1952, thus it was active for 9 years. It is also considered one of the natural wonders of the world. In these 9 years, the lava of the eruptions covered almost 10 square miles whereas ash covers 115 square miles of the area. It killed a number of livestock at that time and also destroyed the town of San Juan. Nowadays it is one of the most famous tourist destinations for road trips, hiking and other adventurous activities.


To sum up we can say that the cinder cone volcano is the simplest kind of volcano with cone shape and a few hundred of height but has the capability to leave impacts on kilometres of area. It is also known as an ash volcano because its eruption leads to eject ashes in the atmosphere and miles of areas. A number of examples can be seen around the world of this type of volcano. Some are active and some are not and used at a tourist place. There is no doubt that a volcano can cause destruction including loss of life, thus we should not go closer to such a kind of volcano where there is a risk to life and the surrounding environment. This topic will be helpful whenever you are studying volcanoes in Geomorphology or Environment or Disaster Management.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Define Cinder Cone. Give Examples.

Answer.  A cinder cone is the simplest type of volcano. The volcano is composed of volcanic cinders that are scoria or small, rough particles of hardened lava. When lava that is highly charged with gas bubbles erupts from a vent under pressure, it tends to shoot straight up into the air which is called fire fountains. It can be sometimes hundreds of metres high. Examples of cinder cones are Mount Suribachi, Mount Mayabobo in the Philippines, Puy de Lassolas, Eve Cone, El jorullo, Mount Elephant in Australia etc.

2. What are the Characteristics of Cinder Cones?

Answer. Cinder cone volcanoes are types of volcanoes which are also known as scoria cones. Usually, they are symmetrical but sometimes they become asymmetric as well when rocks are collected at one side due to wind blowing during an eruption. It generally has low altitudes and has cone type structure along with steep sides. It takes sometimes years or months in its formation and when they are active, cause a lot of destruction in the region because of the explosive eruption of the lava.

3. What Type of Eruptions Do Cinder Cones Have?

Answer. If we talk about the eruptions in the cinder cones, explosive eruptions can be noticed here. The gas expanding and wanting to escape from the molten lava leads to an eruption of lava or gases in fountain form or explosive way whereas when these gases exhaust, then the lava starts running around the sides of the volcano. The eruption here also leads to the formation of cinders on the top when it falls back around the mouth of the volcano or the vent. Not only this, but it also leads to an increase in height of the cone as well.

4. Are Cinder Cones Dangerous?

Answer. If we talk about its lava it lies in between shield and composite volcanoes. If we talk about cinder volcano eruption, this type of volcanoes cause destruction because when it explodes, the lava comes out like a fountain and in the form of lava bombs and these lava bombs can be dangerous for anyone who comes near this. On the other hand, after this explosion, the lava starts running downward and flows hundreds of kilometres and destroys the land around it. It also kills the flora and fauna and can lead to loss of life as well. Thus, it appears dangerous in such cases.