Several types of volcanic eruptions—during which lava, tephra (ash, lapilli, volcanic bombs and volcanic blocks), and assorted gases are expelled from a volcanic vent or fissure—have been distinguished by volcanologists. These are often named after famous volcanoes where that type of behavior has been observed. Some volcanoes may exhibit only one characteristic type of eruption during a period of activity, while others may display an entire sequence of types all in one eruptive series.
Lava is molten rock generated by geothermal energy and expelled through fractures in planetary crust or in an eruption, usually at temperatures from 700 to 1,200 °C. The structures resulting from subsequent solidification and cooling are also sometimes described as lava. The molten rock is formed in the interior of some planets, including Earth, and some of their satellites, though such material located below the crust is referred to by other terms.
Tephra is fragmental material produced by a volcanic eruption regardless of composition, fragment size, or emplacement mechanism.
Volcanic ash consists of fragments of pulverized rock, minerals and volcanic glass, created during volcanic eruptions and measuring less than 2 mm (0.079 inches) in diameter. The term volcanic ash is also often loosely used to refer to all explosive eruption products, including particles larger than 2 mm. Volcanic ash is formed during explosive volcanic eruptions when dissolved gases in magma expand and escape violently into the atmosphere. The force of the escaping gas shatters the magma and propels it into the atmosphere where it solidifies into fragments of volcanic rock and glass. Ash is also produced when magma comes into contact with water during phreatomagmatic eruptions, causing the water to explosively flash to steam leading to shattering of magma. Once in the air, ash is transported by wind up to thousands of kilometers away.
There are three different types of eruptions. The most well-observed are magmatic eruptions, which involve the decompression of gas within magma that propels it forward. Phreatomagmatic eruptions are another type of volcanic eruption, driven by the compression of gas within magma, the direct opposite of the process powering magmatic activity. The third eruptive type is the phreatic eruption, which is driven by the superheating of steam via contact with magma; these eruptive types often exhibit no magmatic release, instead causing the granulation of existing rock.
Phreatomagmatic eruptions are volcanic eruptions resulting from interaction between magma and water. They differ from exclusively magmatic eruptions and phreatic eruptions. Unlike phreatic eruptions, the products of phreatomagmatic eruptions contain juvenile (magmatic) clasts. It is common for a large explosive eruption to have magmatic and phreatomagmatic components.
A phreatic eruption, also called a phreatic explosion, ultravulcanian eruption or steam-blast eruption, occurs when magma heats ground or surface water. The extreme temperature of the magma causes near-instantaneous evaporation to steam, resulting in an explosion of steam, water, ash, rock, and volcanic bombs. At Mount St. Helens, hundreds of steam explosions preceded a 1980 plinian eruption of the volcano. A less intense geothermal event may result in a mud volcano.
In physics, superheating is the phenomenon in which a liquid is heated to a temperature higher than its boiling point, without boiling. This is a so-called metastable state or metastate, where boiling might occur at any time, induced by external or internal effects. Superheating is achieved by heating a homogeneous substance in a clean container, free of nucleation sites, while taking care not to disturb the liquid.
Within these wide-defining eruptive types are several subtypes. The weakest are Hawaiian and submarine, then Strombolian, followed by Vulcanian and Surtseyan. The stronger eruptive types are Pelean eruptions, followed by Plinian eruptions; the strongest eruptions are called "Ultra-Plinian." Subglacial and phreatic eruptions are defined by their eruptive mechanism, and vary in strength. An important measure of eruptive strength is Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI), an order of magnitude scale ranging from 0 to 8 that often correlates to eruptive types.
A Hawaiian eruption is a type of volcanic eruption where lava flows from the vent in a relatively gentle, low level eruption; it is so named because it is characteristic of Hawaiian volcanoes. Typically they are effusive eruptions, with basaltic magmas of low viscosity, low content of gases, and high temperature at the vent. Very small amounts of volcanic ash are produced. This type of eruption occurs most often at hotspot volcanoes such as Kīlauea on Hawaii's big island and in Iceland, though it can occur near subduction zones and rift zones. Another example of Hawaiian eruptions occurred on the island of Surtsey in Iceland from 1964 to 1967, when molten lava flowed from the crater to the sea.
Submarine eruptions are those volcano eruptions which take place beneath the surface of water. These occur at constructive margins, subduction zones and within tectonic plates due to hotspots. This eruption style is far more prevalent than subaerial activity. For example, it is believed that 70 to 80% of the Earth’s magma output takes place at mid-ocean ridges.
Strombolian eruptions are relatively mild blasts with a volcanic explosivity index of about 1 to 3. They are named for the Italian volcano Stromboli. Strombolian eruptions consist of ejection of incandescent cinder, lapilli, and lava bombs, to altitudes of tens to a few hundreds of metres. The eruptions are small to medium in volume, with sporadic violence.
Volcanic eruptions arise through three main mechanisms:
There are two types of eruptions in terms of activity, explosive eruptions and effusive eruptions. Explosive eruptions are characterized by gas-driven explosions that propels magma and tephra.Effusive eruptions, meanwhile, are characterized by the outpouring of lava without significant explosive eruption.
In volcanology, an explosive eruption is a volcanic eruption of the most violent type. A notable example is the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Such eruptions result when sufficient gas has dissolved under pressure within a viscous magma such that expelled lava violently froths into volcanic ash when pressure is suddenly lowered at the vent. Sometimes a lava plug will block the conduit to the summit, and when this occurs, eruptions are more violent. Explosive eruptions can send rocks, dust, gas and pyroclastic material up to 20 km into the atmosphere at a rate of up to 100,000 tonnes per second, traveling at several hundred meters per second. This cloud may then collapse, creating a pyroclastic flow of hot volcanic matter.
An effusive eruption is a type of volcanic eruption in which lava steadily flows out of a volcano onto the ground. There are two major groupings of eruptions: effusive and explosive. Effusive eruption differs from explosive eruption, wherein magma is violently fragmented and rapidly expelled from a volcano. Effusive eruptions are most common in basaltic magmas, but they also occur in intermediate and felsic magmas. These eruptions form lava flows and lava domes, each of which vary in shape, length, and width. Deep in the crust, gasses are dissolved into the magma because of high pressures, but upon ascent and eruption, pressure drops rapidly, and these gasses begin to exsolve out of the melt. A volcanic eruption is effusive when the erupting magma is volatile poor, which suppresses fragmentation, creating an oozing magma which spills out of the volcanic vent and out into the surrounding area. The shape of effusive lava flows is governed by the type of lava, rate and duration of eruption, and topography of the surrounding landscape.
Magma is the molten or semi-molten natural material from which all igneous rocks are formed. Magma is found beneath the surface of the Earth, and evidence of magmatism has also been discovered on other terrestrial planets and some natural satellites. Besides molten rock, magma may also contain suspended crystals and gas bubbles. Magma is produced by melting of the mantle and/or the crust at various tectonic settings, including subduction zones, continental rift zones, mid-ocean ridges and hotspots. Mantle and crustal melts migrate upwards through the crust where they are thought to be stored in magma chambers or trans-crustal crystal-rich mush zones. During their storage in the crust, magma compositions may be modified by fractional crystallization, contamination with crustal melts, magma mixing, and degassing. Following their ascent through the crust, magmas may feed a volcano or solidify underground to form an intrusion. While the study of magma has historically relied on observing magma in the form of lava flows, magma has been encountered in situ three times during geothermal drilling projects—twice in Iceland, and once in Hawaii.
Volcanic eruptions vary widely in strength. On the one extreme there are effusive Hawaiian eruptions, which are characterized by lava fountains and fluid lava flows, which are typically not very dangerous. On the other extreme, Plinian eruptions are large, violent, and highly dangerous explosive events. Volcanoes are not bound to one eruptive style, and frequently display many different types, both passive and explosive, even in the span of a single eruptive cycle.Volcanoes do not always erupt vertically from a single crater near their peak, either. Some volcanoes exhibit lateral and fissure eruptions. Notably, many Hawaiian eruptions start from rift zones, and some of the strongest Surtseyan eruptions develop along fracture zones. Scientists believed that pulses of magma mixed together in the chamber before climbing upward—a process estimated to take several thousands of years. But Columbia University volcanologists found that the eruption of Costa Rica’s Irazú Volcano in 1963 was likely triggered by magma that took a nonstop route from the mantle over just a few months.
The Volcanic Explosivity Index (commonly shortened to VEI) is a scale, from 0 to 8, for measuring the strength of eruptions. It is used by the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program in assessing the impact of historic and prehistoric lava flows. It operates in a way similar to the Richter scale for earthquakes, in that each interval in value represents a tenfold increasing in magnitude (it is logarithmic).The vast majority of volcanic eruptions are of VEIs between 0 and 2.
Volcanic eruptions by VEI index
|VEI||Plume height||Eruptive volume *||Eruption type||Frequency **||Example|
|0||<100 m (330 ft)||1,000 m3 (35,300 cu ft)||Hawaiian||Continuous||Kilauea|
|1||100–1,000 m (300–3,300 ft)||10,000 m3 (353,000 cu ft)||Hawaiian/Strombolian||Fortnightly||Stromboli|
|2||1–5 km (1–3 mi)||1,000,000 m3 (35,300,000 cu ft) †||Strombolian/Vulcanian||Monthly||Galeras (1992)|
|3||3–15 km (2–9 mi)||10,000,000 m3 (353,000,000 cu ft)||Vulcanian||3 months||Nevado del Ruiz (1985)|
|4||10–25 km (6–16 mi)||100,000,000 m3 (0.024 cu mi)||Vulcanian/Peléan||18 months||Eyjafjallajökull (2010)|
|5||>25 km (16 mi)||1 km3 (0.24 cu mi)||Plinian||10–15 years||Mount St. Helens (1980)|
|6||>25 km (16 mi)||10 km3 (2 cu mi)||Plinian/Ultra-Plinian||50–100 years||Santa Maria (1902)|
|7||>25 km (16 mi)||100 km3 (20 cu mi)||Ultra-Plinian||500–1000 years||Tambora (1815)|
|8||>25 km (16 mi)||1,000 km3 (200 cu mi)||Supervolcanic||50,000+ years||Lake Toba (74 k.y.a.)|
|* This is the minimum eruptive volume necessary for the eruption to be considered within the category.|
** Values are a rough estimate. They indicate the frequencies for volcanoes of that magnitude OR HIGHER
† There is a discontinuity between the 1st and 2nd VEI level; instead of increasing by a magnitude of 10, the value increases by a magnitude of 100 (from 10,000 to 1,000,000).
Magmatic eruptions produce juvenile clasts during explosive decompression from gas release. They range in intensity from the relatively small lava fountains on Hawaii to catastrophic Ultra-Plinian eruption columns more than 30 km (19 mi) high, bigger than the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 that buried Pompeii.
Hawaiian eruptions are a type of volcanic eruption, named after the Hawaiian volcanoes with which this eruptive type is hallmark. Hawaiian eruptions are the calmest types of volcanic events, characterized by the effusive eruption of very fluid basalt-type lavas with low gaseous content. The volume of ejected material from Hawaiian eruptions is less than half of that found in other eruptive types. Steady production of small amounts of lava builds up the large, broad form of a shield volcano. Eruptions are not centralized at the main summit as with other volcanic types, and often occur at vents around the summit and from fissure vents radiating out of the center.
Hawaiian eruptions often begin as a line of vent eruptions along a fissure vent, a so-called "curtain of fire." These die down as the lava begins to concentrate at a few of the vents. Central-vent eruptions, meanwhile, often take the form of large lava fountains (both continuous and sporadic), which can reach heights of hundreds of meters or more. The particles from lava fountains usually cool in the air before hitting the ground, resulting in the accumulation of cindery scoria fragments; however, when the air is especially thick with clasts, they cannot cool off fast enough due to the surrounding heat, and hit the ground still hot, the accumulation of which forms spatter cones. If eruptive rates are high enough, they may even form splatter-fed lava flows. Hawaiian eruptions are often extremely long lived; Puʻu ʻŌʻō, a cinder cone of Kilauea, has been erupting continuously since 1983. Another Hawaiian volcanic feature is the formation of active lava lakes, self-maintaining pools of raw lava with a thin crust of semi-cooled rock; there are currently only 6 such lakes in the world, and the one at Kīlauea's Kupaianaha vent is one of them.
Flows from Hawaiian eruptions are basaltic, and can be divided into two types by their structural characteristics. Pahoehoe lava is a relatively smooth lava flow that can be billowy or ropey. They can move as one sheet, by the advancement of "toes," or as a snaking lava column. A'a lava flows are denser and more viscous than pahoehoe, and tend to move slower. Flows can measure 2 to 20 m (7 to 66 ft) thick. A'a flows are so thick that the outside layers cools into a rubble-like mass, insulating the still-hot interior and preventing it from cooling. A'a lava moves in a peculiar way—the front of the flow steepens due to pressure from behind until it breaks off, after which the general mass behind it moves forward. Pahoehoe lava can sometimes become A'a lava due to increasing viscosity or increasing rate of shear, but A'a lava never turns into pahoehoe flow.
Hawaiian eruptions are responsible for several unique volcanological objects. Small volcanic particles are carried and formed by the wind, chilling quickly into teardrop-shaped glassy fragments known as Pele's tears (after Pele, the Hawaiian volcano deity). During especially high winds these chunks may even take the form of long drawn-out strands, known as Pele's hair. Sometimes basalt aerates into reticulite, the lowest density rock type on earth.
Although Hawaiian eruptions are named after the volcanoes of Hawaii, they are not necessarily restricted to them; the largest lava fountain ever recorded formed on the island of Izu Ōshima (on Mount Mihara) in 1986, a 1,600 m (5,249 ft) gusher that was more than twice as high as the mountain itself (which stands at 764 m (2,507 ft)).
Volcanoes known to have Hawaiian activity include:
Strombolian eruptions are a type of volcanic eruption, named after the volcano Stromboli, which has been erupting continuously for centuries.Strombolian eruptions are driven by the bursting of gas bubbles within the magma. These gas bubbles within the magma accumulate and coalesce into large bubbles, called gas slugs. These grow large enough to rise through the lava column. Upon reaching the surface, the difference in air pressure causes the bubble to burst with a loud pop, throwing magma in the air in a way similar to a soap bubble. Because of the high gas pressures associated with the lavas, continued activity is generally in the form of episodic explosive eruptions accompanied by the distinctive loud blasts. During eruptions, these blasts occur as often as every few minutes.
The term "Strombolian" has been used indiscriminately to describe a wide variety of volcanic eruptions, varying from small volcanic blasts to large eruptive columns. In reality, true Strombolian eruptions are characterized by short-lived and explosive eruptions of lavas with intermediate viscosity, often ejected high into the air. Columns can measure hundreds of meters in height. The lavas formed by Strombolian eruptions are a form of relatively viscous basaltic lava, and its end product is mostly scoria.The relative passivity of Strombolian eruptions, and its non-damaging nature to its source vent allow Strombolian eruptions to continue unabated for thousands of years, and also makes it one of the least dangerous eruptive types.
Strombolian eruptions eject volcanic bombs and lapilli fragments that travel in parabolic paths before landing around their source vent. The steady accumulation of small fragments builds cinder cones composed completely of basaltic pyroclasts. This form of accumulation tends to result in well-ordered rings of tephra.
Strombolian eruptions are similar to Hawaiian eruptions, but there are differences. Strombolian eruptions are noisier, produce no sustained eruptive columns, do not produce some volcanic products associated with Hawaiian volcanism (specifically Pele's tears and Pele's hair), and produce fewer molten lava flows (although the eruptive material does tend to form small rivulets).
Volcanoes known to have Strombolian activity include:
Vulcanian eruptions are a type of volcanic eruption, named after the volcano Vulcano. 5 and 10 km (3 and 6 mi) high. Lastly, Vulcanian deposits are andesitic to dacitic rather than basaltic.It was named so following Giuseppe Mercalli's observations of its 1888–1890 eruptions. In Vulcanian eruptions, intermediate viscous magma within the volcano make it difficult for vesiculate gases to escape. Similar to Strombolian eruptions, this leads to the buildup of high gas pressure, eventually popping the cap holding the magma down and resulting in an explosive eruption. However, unlike Strombolian eruptions, ejected lava fragments are not aerodynamic; this is due to the higher viscosity of Vulcanian magma and the greater incorporation of crystalline material broken off from the former cap. They are also more explosive than their Strombolian counterparts, with eruptive columns often reaching between
Initial Vulcanian activity is characterized by a series of short-lived explosions, lasting a few minutes to a few hours and typified by the ejection of volcanic bombs and blocks. These eruptions wear down the lava dome holding the magma down, and it disintegrates, leading to much more quiet and continuous eruptions. Thus an early sign of future Vulcanian activity is lava dome growth, and its collapse generates an outpouring of pyroclastic material down the volcano's slope.
Deposits near the source vent consist of large volcanic blocks and bombs, with so-called "bread-crust bombs" being especially common. These deeply cracked volcanic chunks form when the exterior of ejected lava cools quickly into a glassy or fine-grained shell, but the inside continues to cool and vesiculate. The center of the fragment expands, cracking the exterior. However the bulk of Vulcanian deposits are fine grained ash. The ash is only moderately dispersed, and its abundance indicates a high degree of fragmentation, the result of high gas contents within the magma. In some cases these have been found to be the result of interaction with meteoric water, suggesting that Vulcanian eruptions are partially hydrovolcanic.
Volcanoes that have exhibited Vulcanian activity include:
Peléan eruptions (or nuée ardente) are a type of volcanic eruption, named after the volcano Mount Pelée in Martinique, the site of a massive Peléan eruption in 1902 that is one of the worst natural disasters in history. In Peléan eruptions, a large amount of gas, dust, ash, and lava fragments are blown out the volcano's central crater, 150 km (93 mi) per hour. These massive landslides make Peléan eruptions one of the most dangerous in the world, capable of tearing through populated areas and causing massive loss of life. The 1902 eruption of Mount Pelée caused tremendous destruction, killing more than 30,000 people and completely destroying the town of St. Pierre, the worst volcanic event in the 20th century.driven by the collapse of rhyolite, dacite, and andesite lava dome collapses that often create large eruptive columns. An early sign of a coming eruption is the growth of a so-called Peléan or lava spine, a bulge in the volcano's summit preempting its total collapse. The material collapses upon itself, forming a fast-moving pyroclastic flow (known as a block-and-ash flow) that moves down the side of the mountain at tremendous speeds, often over
Peléan eruptions are characterized most prominently by the incandescent pyroclastic flows that they drive. The mechanics of a Peléan eruption are very similar to that of a Vulcanian eruption, except that in Peléan eruptions the volcano's structure is able to withstand more pressure, hence the eruption occurs as one large explosion rather than several smaller ones.
Volcanoes known to have Peléan activity include:
Plinian eruptions (or Vesuvian eruptions) are a type of volcanic eruption, named for the historical eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD that buried the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum and, specifically, for its chronicler Pliny the Younger.The process powering Plinian eruptions starts in the magma chamber, where dissolved volatile gases are stored in the magma. The gases vesiculate and accumulate as they rise through the magma conduit. These bubbles agglutinate and once they reach a certain size (about 75% of the total volume of the magma conduit) they explode. The narrow confines of the conduit force the gases and associated magma up, forming an eruptive column. Eruption velocity is controlled by the gas contents of the column, and low-strength surface rocks commonly crack under the pressure of the eruption, forming a flared outgoing structure that pushes the gases even faster.
These massive eruptive columns are the distinctive feature of a Plinian eruption, and reach up 2 to 45 km (1 to 28 mi) into the atmosphere. The densest part of the plume, directly above the volcano, is driven internally by gas expansion. As it reaches higher into the air the plume expands and becomes less dense, convection and thermal expansion of volcanic ash drive it even further up into the stratosphere. At the top of the plume, powerful prevailing winds drive the plume in a direction away from the volcano.
These highly explosive eruptions are associated with volatile-rich dacitic to rhyolitic lavas, and occur most typically at stratovolcanoes. Eruptions can last anywhere from hours to days, with longer eruptions being associated with more felsic volcanoes. Although they are associated with felsic magma, Plinian eruptions can just as well occur at basaltic volcanoes, given that the magma chamber differentiates and has a structure rich in silicon dioxide.
Plinian eruptions are similar to both Vulcanian and Strombolian eruptions, except that rather than creating discrete explosive events, Plinian eruptions form sustained eruptive columns. They are also similar to Hawaiian lava fountains in that both eruptive types produce sustained eruption columns maintained by the growth of bubbles that move up at about the same speed as the magma surrounding them.
Regions affected by Plinian eruptions are subjected to heavy pumice airfall affecting an area 0.5 to 50 km3 (0 to 12 cu mi) in size. The material in the ash plume eventually finds its way back to the ground, covering the landscape in a thick layer of many cubic kilometers of ash.
However the most dangerous eruptive feature are the pyroclastic flows generated by material collapse, which move down the side of the mountain at extreme speeds 700 km (435 mi) per hour and with the ability to extend the reach of the eruption hundreds of kilometers. The ejection of hot material from the volcano's summit melts snowbanks and ice deposits on the volcano, which mixes with tephra to form lahars, fast moving mudslides with the consistency of wet concrete that move at the speed of a river rapid.of up to
Major Plinian eruptive events include:
Phreatomagmatic eruptions are eruptions that arise from interactions between water and magma. They are driven from thermal contraction (as opposed to magmatic eruptions, which are driven by thermal expansion) of magma when it comes in contact with water. This temperature difference between the two causes violent water-lava interactions that make up the eruption. The products of phreatomagmatic eruptions are believed to be more regular in shape and finer grained than the products of magmatic eruptions because of the differences in eruptive mechanisms.
There is debate about the exact nature of phreatomagmatic eruptions, and some scientists believe that fuel-coolant reactions may be more critical to the explosive nature than thermal contraction.Fuel coolant reactions may fragment the volcanic material by propagating stress waves, widening cracks and increasing surface area that ultimately leads to rapid cooling and explosive contraction-driven eruptions.
A Surtseyan eruption (or hydrovolcanic) is a type of volcanic eruption caused by shallow-water interactions between water and lava, named so after its most famous example, the eruption and formation of the island of Surtsey off the coast of Iceland in 1963. Surtseyan eruptions are the "wet" equivalent of ground-based Strombolian eruptions, but because of where they are taking place they are much more explosive. This is because as water is heated by lava, it flashes in steam and expands violently, fragmenting the magma it is in contact with into fine-grained ash. Surtseyan eruptions are the hallmark of shallow-water volcanic oceanic islands, however they are not specifically confined to them. Surtseyan eruptions can happen on land as well, and are caused by rising magma that comes into contact with an aquifer (water-bearing rock formation) at shallow levels under the volcano.The products of Surtseyan eruptions are generally oxidized palagonite basalts (though andesitic eruptions do occur, albeit rarely), and like Strombolian eruptions Surtseyan eruptions are generally continuous or otherwise rhythmic.
A distinct defining feature of a Surtseyan eruption is the formation of a pyroclastic surge (or base surge), a ground hugging radial cloud that develops along with the eruption column. Base surges are caused by the gravitational collapse of a vaporous eruptive column, one that is denser overall than a regular volcanic column. The densest part of the cloud is nearest to the vent, resulting in a wedge shape. Associated with these laterally moving rings are dune-shaped depositions of rock left behind by the lateral movement. These are occasionally disrupted by bomb sags, rock that was flung out by the explosive eruption and followed a ballistic path to the ground. Accumulations of wet, spherical ash known as accretionary lapilli are another common surge indicator.
Over time Surtseyan eruptions tend to form maars, broad low-relief volcanic craters dug into the ground, and tuff rings, circular structures built of rapidly quenched lava. These structures are associated with a single vent eruption, however if eruptions arise along fracture zones a rift zone may be dug out; these eruptions tend to be more violent then the ones forming a tuff ring or maars, an example being the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera.Littoral cones are another hydrovolcanic feature, generated by the explosive deposition of basaltic tephra (although they are not truly volcanic vents). They form when lava accumulates within cracks in lava, superheats and explodes in a steam explosion, breaking the rock apart and depositing it on the volcano's flank. Consecutive explosions of this type eventually generate the cone.
Volcanoes known to have Surtseyan activity include:
Submarine eruptions are a type of volcanic eruption that occurs underwater. An estimated 75% of the total volcanic eruptive volume is generated by submarine eruptions near mid ocean ridges alone, however because of the problems associated with detecting deep sea volcanics, they remained virtually unknown until advances in the 1990s made it possible to observe them.
Submarine eruptions may produce seamounts which may break the surface to form volcanic islands and island chains.
Submarine volcanism is driven by various processes. Volcanoes near plate boundaries and mid-ocean ridges are built by the decompression melting of mantle rock that rises on an upwelling portion of a convection cell to the crustal surface. Eruptions associated with subducting zones, meanwhile, are driven by subducting plates that add volatiles to the rising plate, lowering its melting point. Each process generates different rock; mid-ocean ridge volcanics are primarily basaltic, whereas subduction flows are mostly calc-alkaline, and more explosive and viscous.
Spreading rates along mid-ocean ridges vary widely, from 2 cm (0.8 in) per year at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, to up to 16 cm (6 in) along the East Pacific Rise. Higher spreading rates are a probable cause for higher levels of volcanism. The technology for studying seamount eruptions did not exist until advancements in hydrophone technology made it possible to "listen" to acoustic waves, known as T-waves, released by submarine earthquakes associated with submarine volcanic eruptions. The reason for this is that land-based seismometers cannot detect sea-based earthquakes below a magnitude of 4, but acoustic waves travel well in water and over long periods of time. A system in the North Pacific, maintained by the United States Navy and originally intended for the detection of submarines, has detected an event on average every 2 to 3 years.
The most common underwater flow is pillow lava, a circular lava flow named after its unusual shape. Less common are glassy, marginal sheet flows, indicative of larger-scale flows. Volcaniclastic sedimentary rocks are common in shallow-water environments. As plate movement starts to carry the volcanoes away from their eruptive source, eruption rates start to die down, and water erosion grinds the volcano down. The final stages of eruption cap the seamount in alkalic flows.There are about 100,000 deepwater volcanoes in the world, although most are beyond the active stage of their life. Some exemplary seamounts are Loihi Seamount, Bowie Seamount, Davidson Seamount, and Axial Seamount.
Subglacial eruptions are a type of volcanic eruption characterized by interactions between lava and ice, often under a glacier. The nature of glaciovolcanism dictates that it occurs at areas of high latitude and high altitude.It has been suggested that subglacial volcanoes that are not actively erupting often dump heat into the ice covering them, producing meltwater. This meltwater mix means that subglacial eruptions often generate dangerous jökulhlaups (floods) and lahars.
The study of glaciovolcanism is still a relatively new field. Early accounts described the unusual flat-topped steep-sided volcanoes (called tuyas) in Iceland that were suggested to have formed from eruptions below ice. The first English-language paper on the subject was published in 1947 by William Henry Mathews, describing the Tuya Butte field in northwest British Columbia, Canada. The eruptive process that builds these structures, originally inferred in the paper,begins with volcanic growth below the glacier. At first the eruptions resemble those that occur in the deep sea, forming piles of pillow lava at the base of the volcanic structure. Some of the lava shatters when it comes in contact with the cold ice, forming a glassy breccia called hyaloclastite. After a while the ice finally melts into a lake, and the more explosive eruptions of Surtseyan activity begins, building up flanks made up of mostly hyaloclastite. Eventually the lake boils off from continued volcanism, and the lava flows become more effusive and thicken as the lava cools much more slowly, often forming columnar jointing. Well-preserved tuyas show all of these stages, for example Hjorleifshofdi in Iceland.
Products of volcano-ice interactions stand as various structures, whose shape is dependent on complex eruptive and environmental interactions. Glacial volcanism is a good indicator of past ice distribution, making it an important climatic marker. Since they are embedded in ice, as glacial ice retreats worldwide there are concerns that tuyas and other structures may destabilize, resulting in mass landslides. Evidence of volcanic-glacial interactions are evident in Iceland and parts of British Columbia, and it is even possible that they play a role in deglaciation.
Glaciovolcanic products have been identified in Iceland, the Canadian province of British Columbia, the U.S. states of Hawaii and Alaska, the Cascade Range of western North America, South America and even on the planet Mars.Volcanoes known to have subglacial activity include:
Viable microbial communities have been found living in deep (−2800 m) geothermal groundwater at 349 K and pressures >300 bar. Furthermore, microbes have been postulated to exist in basaltic rocks in rinds of altered volcanic glass. All of these conditions could exist in polar regions of Mars today where subglacial volcanism has occurred.
Phreatic eruptions (or steam-blast eruptions) are a type of eruption driven by the expansion of steam. When cold ground or surface water come into contact with hot rock or magma it superheats and explodes, fracturing the surrounding rockand thrusting out a mixture of steam, water, ash, volcanic bombs, and volcanic blocks. The distinguishing feature of phreatic explosions is that they only blast out fragments of pre-existing solid rock from the volcanic conduit; no new magma is erupted. Because they are driven by the cracking of rock strata under pressure, phreatic activity does not always result in an eruption; if the rock face is strong enough to withstand the explosive force, outright eruptions may not occur, although cracks in the rock will probably develop and weaken it, furthering future eruptions.
Often a precursor of future volcanic activity,phreatic eruptions are generally weak, although there have been exceptions. Some phreatic events may be triggered by earthquake activity, another volcanic precursor, and they may also travel along dike lines. Phreatic eruptions form base surges, lahars, avalanches, and volcanic block "rain." They may also release deadly toxic gas able to suffocate anyone in range of the eruption.
Volcanoes known to exhibit phreatic activity include:
A volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object, such as Earth, that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface.
A shield volcano is a type of volcano usually composed almost entirely of fluid lava flows. It is named for its low profile, resembling a warrior's shield lying on the ground. This is caused by the highly fluid lava erupted, which travels farther than lava erupted from a stratovolcano, and results in the steady accumulation of broad sheets of lava, building up the shield volcano's distinctive form.
Pacaya is an active complex volcano in Guatemala, which first erupted approximately 23,000 years ago and has erupted at least 23 times since the Spanish invasion of Guatemala. Pacaya rises to an elevation of 2,552 metres (8,373 ft). After being dormant for over 70 years, it began erupting vigorously in 1961 and has been erupting frequently since then. Much of its activity is Strombolian, but occasional Plinian eruptions also occur, sometimes showering the area of the nearby Departments with ash.
Mount Asama is an active complex volcano in central Honshū, the main island of Japan. The volcano is the most active on Honshū. The Japan Meteorological Agency classifies Mount Asama as rank A. It stands 2,568 metres (8,425 ft) above sea level on the border of Gunma and Nagano prefectures. It is included in 100 Famous Japanese Mountains.
The Garibaldi Volcanic Belt is a northwest-southeast trending volcanic chain in the Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains that extends from Watts Point in the south to the Ha-Iltzuk Icefield in the north. This chain of volcanoes is located in southwestern British Columbia, Canada. It forms the northernmost segment of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, which includes Mount St. Helens and Mount Baker. Most volcanoes of the Garibaldi chain are dormant stratovolcanoes and subglacial volcanoes that have been eroded by glacial ice. Less common volcanic landforms include cinder cones, volcanic plugs, lava domes and calderas. These diverse formations were created by different styles of volcanic activity, including Peléan and Plinian eruptions.
The fifteen volcanoes that make up the eight principal islands of Hawaii are the youngest in a chain of more than 129 volcanoes that stretch 5,800 kilometres (3,600 mi) across the North Pacific Ocean, called the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain. Hawaiʻi's volcanoes rise an average of 4,572 metres (15,000 ft) to reach sea level from their base. The largest, Mauna Loa, is 4,169 metres (13,678 ft) high. As shield volcanoes, they are built by accumulated lava flows, growing a few meters/feet at a time to form a broad and gently sloping shape.
Cerro Negro is an active volcano in the Cordillera de los Maribios mountain range in Nicaragua, about 10 km from the village of Malpaisillo. It is a very new volcano, the youngest in Central America, having first appeared in April 1850. It consists of a gravelly basaltic cinder cone, which contrasts greatly with the surrounding verdant hillsides, and gives rise to its name, which means Black Hill. Cerro Negro has erupted frequently since its first eruption. One unusual aspect of several eruptions has been the emission of ash from the top of the cone, while lava erupts from fractures at the base.
Plinian eruptions or Vesuvian eruptions are volcanic eruptions marked by their similarity to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, which destroyed the ancient Roman cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii. The eruption was described in a letter written by Pliny the Younger, after the death of his uncle Pliny the Elder.
A volcanic crater is a roughly circular depression in the ground caused by volcanic activity. It is typically a bowl-shaped feature within which occurs a vent or vents. During volcanic eruptions, molten magma and volcanic gases rise from an underground magma chamber, through a tube-shaped conduit, until they reach the crater's vent, from where the gases escape into the atmosphere and the magma is erupted as lava. A volcanic crater can be of large dimensions, and sometimes of great depth. During certain types of explosive eruptions, a volcano's magma chamber may empty enough for an area above it to subside, forming a type of larger depression known as a caldera.
Cerro Azul, sometimes referred to as Quizapu, is an active stratovolcano in the Maule Region of central Chile, immediately south of Descabezado Grande. Part of the South Volcanic Zone of the Andes, its summit is 3,788 meters (12,428 ft) above sea level, and is capped by a summit crater that is 500 meters (1,600 ft) wide and opens to the north. Beneath the summit, the volcano features numerous scoria cones and flank vents.
The term vulcanian was first used by Giuseppe Mercalli, witnessing the 1888–1890 eruptions on the island of Vulcano. His description of the eruption style is now used all over the world for eruptions characterised by a dense cloud of ash-laden gas exploding from the crater and rising high above the peak. Mercalli described vulcanian eruptions as "...Explosions like cannon fire at irregular intervals..." Their explosive nature is due to increased silica content of the magma. Almost all types of magma can be involved, but magma with about 55% or more silica is most common. Increasing silica levels increase the viscosity of the magma which means increased explosiveness. They usually commence with phreatomagmatic eruptions which can be extremely noisy due the rising magma heating water in the ground. This is usually followed by the explosive clearing of the vent and the eruption column is dirty grey to black as old weathered rocks are blasted out of the vent. As the vent clears, further ash clouds become grey-white and creamy in colour, with convolutions of the ash similar to those of Plinian eruptions.
Peléan eruptions are a type of volcanic eruption. They can occur when viscous magma, typically of rhyolitic or andesitic type, is involved, and share some similarities with Vulcanian eruptions. The most important characteristic of a Peléan eruption is the presence of a glowing avalanche of hot volcanic ash, a pyroclastic flow. Formation of lava domes is another characteristic. Short flows of ash or creation of pumice cones may be observed as well.
Hoodoo Mountain is a potentially active flat-topped stratovolcano in the Stikine Country of northwestern British Columbia, Canada, located 74 km (46 mi) northeast of Wrangell, Alaska, on the north side of the lower Iskut River and 30 km (19 mi) east of its junction with the Stikine River. It is situated in the Boundary Ranges of the Coast Mountains and existed since the Late Pleistocene stage of the Pleistocene epoch, which began 130,000 years ago and ended 10,000 years ago.
Volcanology of Canada includes lava flows, lava plateaus, lava domes, cinder cones, stratovolcanoes, shield volcanoes, submarine volcanoes, calderas, diatremes, and maars, along with examples of more less common volcanic forms such as tuyas and subglacial mounds. It has a very complex volcanological history spanning from the Precambrian eon at least 3.11 billion years ago when this part of the North American continent began to form.
The Mount Edziza volcanic complex is a large and potentially active north-south trending complex volcano in Stikine Country, northwestern British Columbia, Canada, located 38 kilometres (24 mi) southeast of the small community of Telegraph Creek. It occupies the southeastern portion of the Tahltan Highland, an upland area of plateau and lower mountain ranges, lying east of the Boundary Ranges and south of the Inklin River, which is the east fork of the Taku River. As a volcanic complex, it consists of many types of volcanoes, including shield volcanoes, calderas, lava domes, stratovolcanoes, and cinder cones.
The volcanic history of the Northern Cordilleran Volcanic Province presents a record of volcanic activity in northwestern British Columbia, central Yukon and the U.S. state of easternmost Alaska. The volcanic activity lies in the northern part of the Western Cordillera of the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Extensional cracking of the North American Plate in this part of North America has existed for millions of years. Continuation of this continental rifting has fed scores of volcanoes throughout the Northern Cordilleran Volcanic Province over at least the past 20 million years and occasionally continued into geologically recent times.
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