Volcanoes are one of the many landforms we know. They come in various sizes and others have gone dormant while others remained active. Have we wondered where this word came from ? The word volcano was derived from the Roman god of fire, Vulcan. It is indeed true that when volcanoes erupt, it would reveal explosions of fire as the magma that rises on the surfaces of the volcanoes, which then becomes lava, is very hot and causes great destructions over life, land and properties.
Oftentimes, the word magma and lava are used interchangeably. Do the two words hold the same meaning? What is the difference between magma and lava? It is time for us to know the distinctions of the two to avoid further mistakes as both words do not refer to the same thing.
As we all know, a volcano is a landform that has an opening on its surface which we call as crater. Since we can only appreciate the earth’s crust, the layer of the earth where we are standing today, we cannot feel the extreme temperature when talking about deeper layers of the earth. When we go at the interior portions of the earth such as the mantle, the temperature gets hotter and this aids to the formation of molten rock, which is called the magma.
The magma is formed at the deep portions of the earth, within the magma chambers underneath a volcano, with a temperature that ranges between 700 to 1300 C. Magma is composed of crystals, rock remnants and gases that have been liquefied. It is also composed of elements such as potassium, aluminum, oxygen, calcium, sodium, silicon, manganese, magnesium and iron. Because of its lightweight, it can travel to the earth’s crust and erupts from a volcano.
When the volcano erupts, what we can see on the surface of the volcano is no longer the magma but the lava itself. The red and hot lava comes in various kinds and viscosity. When the lava is more viscous, it moves slowly and it is likely to stay surrounding the volcanic vent or may not flow at all. Only those that have thin consistencies are able to flow rapidly along the sides of the volcano.
Lavas are formed from bubbles, liquids and crystals and have the same components with magmas such as those important elements stated above. The only difference between magma and lava is their location. That is why there is no reason leaving us into confusion because those that are still underneath the earth’s mantle are called magma and when volcanoes erupt, that is the time it becomes lava.