Galapagos Geology (Hot Spot)

The Galapagos geology of these volcanic Islands is in continuous change and is responsible for the unique flora and fauna.

The Islands originated with the activity of a hot spot, which turned this place into one of the most amazing locations on Earth.


The Islands follow a chain pattern where the older Islands are found in the East, while the younger Islands are found in the West.

This very simple Galapagos geology feature is responsible for the unique development of Galapagos Flora and fauna, the rates of erosion, the frequency of volcanic eruptions, and of course, the always unpredictable rates of colonization.

galapagos geology

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Geologists Explain this with Lots of Interesting Facts.

The theory states that there is a Mantle Plume that is relatively stationary. This mantle plume is of intense heat and deforms the land above it.

The Crustal Plate rides over the hot spot and is occasionally perforated by the molten rock that is rising from the Earth's mantle. The crust above is forced upward because of the heat, and volcanoes are formed.

The previously formed Islands then move slowly away from the hot spot, making room for new Islands to be formed by further volcanic activity.

The older volcanoes eventually become inactive and slowly erode into the ocean depths.

Hot Spots are responsible for the formation of Hawaii, the Galapagos Islands, and other Island chains.

In Galapagos geology we see that this Hot Spot is currently located beneath the northwestern region of the Galapagos Archipelago near Fernandina Island and Isabela Island.

The width of the hot spot is estimated to be approximately 150 kilometers (100 miles).

Since the Galapagos Islands are moving with the Nazca plate and the hot spot remains stationary, the Islands form and slowly drift away from the hot spot.

They move at about 5 cm per year, allowing more volcanoes and Islands to be formed.

Also the Galapagos Islands move with the Nazca Plate in an east-southeast direction so the older Islands are found in the southeast. The newly forming Islands are located in the northwest.

Since all of the volcanoes are formed underwater, the material forming them builds and accumulates as it spreads out like a sand hill.

This process creates the Islands in the form of a volcano with gentle sloping sides and a central vent. This type of volcano is known as a Shield Volcano.

The greatness of the Galapagos Wildlife is certainly enhanced by the beauty of Galapagos geology features.

The Hot Spot Theory is one way of explaining, not only why change rules in oceanic Islands, but also how wildlife has adapted to the different Islands that make up this ever-changing land.

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Recommended Reading

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)
With 250 photos and tons of great information, this is an essential addition to your pre-Ecuador and -Galapagos reading! There are better guides if you are only interested in the islands, but for a combination trip taking in Ecuador as well, it's hard to beat.

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands
Small enough to fit into your pocket, yet containing comprehensive information and pictures of all the species you will encounter in the islands, this book is a must-have for nature lovers. Let's face it, Galapagos is largely about the wildlife. This book will NOT disappoint, and you'll have a great memento of your time with the seals, penguins and tortoises!

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World
Definitely NOT a tourist's guide, but if you're like me, and find the history and geography of the islands irresistible, then this is a title you ought to invest in. Stunningly illustrated, and painstakingly researched, those of you who have been there will be enchanted again -- and those of you who have not will begin planning your trip!

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands
If you're a seasoned Galapagos regular, then you will probably prefer something weightier. But for first-timers looking for simple, down-to-earth advice on where to go, what to see and the best shopping and eating on the islands, this is the book for you. Small, well-priced, and reliable!

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire
The 10th anniversary edition of this photographer's tour of the Galapagos Islands is a stunning book, worthy of anybody's coffee table. This is a perfect post-trip talking point -- a great way to remember what you've seen, and spread the word amongst your envious friends!

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If you have any questions about Galapagos Geology, or these Islands, You can post them on our Galapagos FAQ Page and if you'd like to have more information about our recommended Galapagos Tour Packages to explore these Islands, You can Contact us here

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