Difference Between Magma And Lava

The primary difference between magma and lava is that magma is molten rock beneath the Earth’s surface, while lava is molten rock that erupts onto the surface.

What is Magma?

Magma is a hot, molten substance that serves as the precursor to igneous rocks. It primarily comprises silicate liquid, but other variations like carbonate and sulfide melts can also be found. Magma can travel beneath the Earth’s surface or erupt as lava.

It often contains suspended crystals and remnants of unmelted rock, while dissolved gases can form bubbles, and some liquid can solidify during its journey. The properties of magma, such as its chemical composition, viscosity, dissolved gases, and temperature, collectively shape its characteristics.

There are three primary types of magma. Basaltic magma, or mafic magma, is prominent in nonexplosive volcanic eruptions. It has a high temperature (around 1,200 °C or 2,200 °F) and consists of about 45-55 percent silica (SiO2) by weight, resulting in flowing lava.

Rather, rhyolitic magma, or felsic magma, is much cooler (750-850 °C or about 1,400-1,560 °F) but contains a higher silica content, ranging from approximately 65 to 75 percent by weight. Rhyolitic magmas are associated with highly explosive eruptions, leading to ash falls and pyroclastic flows. Andesitic magma falls in between in terms of temperature (800-1,000 °C or about 1,470-1,830 °F) and silica content.

What is Lava?

Lava is molten rock that erupts from a volcano during an eruption. It is incredibly hot, with temperatures ranging from 700 to 1,200 degrees Celsius (1,292 to 2,192 degrees Fahrenheit). Lava can vary in composition, including basaltic, andesitic, and rhyolitic types, which affect its viscosity and behavior. The viscosity of lava determines whether it flows smoothly or erupts explosively.

Lava flows can cover vast areas, destroying everything in their path. When lava cools and solidifies, it forms igneous rocks, such as basalt and obsidian. Lava can also create volcanic features like calderas, lava domes, and volcanic islands. People can study lava to understand Earth’s geological processes and hazards. Lava can be both destructive and essential for the formation of new land and geological diversity.

Magma Vs Lava

The primary difference between magma and lava is given below:

DefinitionMolten rock trapped underground.Molten rock that flows on the surface.
Temperature700 °C to 1600 °C.700 to 1200 °C.
TypesBasaltic, Andesitic, and Rhyolitic.Pahoehoe flow, Aa flow, Blocky lava flow, Pillow lava flow.
CompositionIt takes a longer time to cool down, as it is located underground.Erupts with the slush of crystals, liquid, and bubbles. Contains chemical elements.
CoolingIt takes longer to cool down, as it is underground.Lava cools much quicker than Magma, forming crystals sometimes.
Origin of NameAncient Greek.Italian origin.

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