Although the country's volcanic activity dates back to the Precambrian period, volcanic activity continues to occur in Western and Northern Canada where it forms part of an encircling chain of volcanoes and frequent earthquakes around the Pacific Ocean called the Pacific Ring of Fire. However, because volcanoes in Western and Northern Canada are in remote rugged areas and the level of volcanic activity is less frequent than with other volcanoes around the Pacific Ocean, Canada is commonly thought to occupy a gap in the Pacific Ring of Fire between the volcanoes of western United States to the south and the Aleutian volcanoes of Alaska to the north. However, the mountainous landscape of Western and Northern Canada includes more than 100 volcanoes that have been active during the past two million years and have claimed many lives. Volcanic activity has been responsible for many of Canada's geological and geographical features and mineralization, including the nucleus of North America called the Canadian Shield.
Volcanism has led to the formation of hundreds of volcanic areas and extensive lava formations across Canada, indicating volcanism played a major role in shaping its surface. The country's different volcano and lava types originate from different tectonic settings and types of volcanic eruptions, ranging from passive lava eruptions to violent explosive eruptions. Canada has a rich record of very large volumes of magmatic rock called large igneous provinces. They are represented by deep-level plumbing systems consisting of giant dike swarms, sill provinces and layered intrusions. The most capable large igneous provinces in Canada are Archean (3,800-2,500 million years ago) age greenstone belts containing a rare volcanic rock called komatiite.
The Anahim hotspot is a volcanichotspot in central British Columbia, Canada. It is situated on the Interior Plateau, a large region that lies between the Cariboo and Monashee Mountains to the east, and the Hazelton Mountains, Coast Mountains and Cascade Range to the west. As a geologic hotspot, it is a place that has experienced active volcanism over a long period of time. Identifiable from the mid-Miocene period, it has recorded changes in the western-moving North American Plate because it is believed to have been relatively stationary for tens of millions of years. Since then it has formed a line of volcanoes called the Anahim Volcanic Belt, stretching from the coast to the Interior Plateau near Quesnel. Each of the volcanoes was once over the hotspot, but migration of the North American Plate has pulled the volcanoes away from the hotspot's magmatic source at a rate of 2 cm (0.8 in) to 3.3 cm (1.3 in) per year. As a result, the volcanoes are progressively older to the west. The composition of magma to the volcanoes and its supply change with time as the volcanoes grow over the hotspot and migrate away.
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17 February 2011: Earthquake activity occurs at Mount St. Helens, USA. The earthquake swarms occurred in the same area as those preceding St. Helen's famous 1980 eruption. No actions have yet taken place.