How Volcanoes Work

 Image Described in Caption
Mauna Loa Fissures -- North is toward the upper left. Southwest and east rift systems of the Mauna Loa volcano descend down the Mokuaweoweo summit caldera. Fissure eruptions of basalt lava have created an elongated shield shape. The different color combinations in this radar image are caused by differences in surface textures. Pahoehoe surfaces are smooth and show up in red, whereas the rougher a'a flows are shown in yellow and white. Many of these lava flows are historic in age. Courtesy of NASA.