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The Galapagos Islands are volcanic islands. The source of their volcanic energy is a hotspot in the Earth’s mantle. The volcanos in the Galapagos are cone shaped shield volcanos that look a lot like your typical kids science fair project. Instead of baking soda and vinegar, molten lava comes out of the top forming gentle slopes topped with a caldera. Inside the caldera the sides are steep and there is usually a flatish floor that is actually just a thin plug over the lava plume below.

If you visit the western islands of Isabela and Fernandina, you can see the classic cone shapes of the active volcanos. From a distance, the volcanos look like a giant science fair project.


Pahoehoe Lava Photo by Ted Hein


On Santiago (or James) Island, we saw vast lava fields that seem like they are from another world. Here is where we really saw how the volcanic eruptions in the Galapagos are not as explosive as some other volcanos like Mt. St. Helens. There is less gas expelled than lava. The lava on Santiago moved relatively slowly and oozed out to form pahoehoe lava fields that look like burnt caramel left out to cool in the middle of the ocean.

Photo Ted Hein

Collapsed Caldera – Santa Cruz, Galapagos Photo Ted Hein

When we visited the island of Santa Cruz, (kind of in the middle of the chain) we saw the collapsed caldera of an inactive volcano. It was like a giant sink hole in the top of a mountain. We also walked through lava tubes where gas and lava was vented out the sides of the main plume. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see my daughter looking up at the walls of the tube. I have to admit, it was a little frightening to imagine the force that made those tubes.

Lava Tube-Santa Cruz, Galapagos (photo E. Hein)

Lava Tube-Santa Cruz, Galapagos (photo E. Hein)

Would you like to be part of Midge & Snig’s adventure in the Galapagos? Want to have your name (or any name you choose) in my next book? From now until the end of April, everyone who follows my blog, signs up for my newsletter, or leaves a comment, will be entered in a drawing for the chance to name the cruise ship featured in the book.

This post in part of the AtoZ Challenge. Please click on the sunflower AtoZ icon in the sidebar to go to the official list of participating blogs. This year my theme is the Galapagos Islands. I am in the process of writing the first of my Midge & Snig mystery series set in the islands. In my research, I have come across a plethora of interesting facts and images. The vast majority of my research won’t get included in the book, but it’s fun to share what I’ve learned with you all.