Lava Shader Texture
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 (1,292 to 2,192 °F). 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. A lava flow is a moving outpouring of lava created during a non-explosive effusive eruption. When it has stopped moving, lava solidifies to form igneous rock. The term lava flow is commonly shortened to lava. Although lava can be up to 100,000 times more viscous than water, lava can flow great distances before cooling and solidifying because of its thixotropic and shear thinning properties. Explosive eruptions produce a mixture of volcanic ash and other fragments called tephra, rather than lava flows. The word lava comes from Italian, and is probably derived from the Latin word labes which means a fall or slide. The first use in connection with extruded magma (molten rock below the Earth's surface) was apparently in a short account written by Francesco Serao on the eruption of Vesuvius in 1737. Serao described a flow of fiery lava as an analogy to the flow of water and mud down the flanks of the volcano following heavy rain. The composition of almost all lava of the Earth's crust is dominated by silicate minerals: mostly feldspars, olivine, pyroxenes, amphiboles, micas and quartz. Silicate lavas Silicate lavas can be classified into three chemical types: felsic, intermediate, and mafic (four if one includes the super-heated ultramafic). These classes are primarily chemical; however, the chemistry of lava also tends to correlate with the magma temperature, viscosity and mode of eruption. Felsic lava Felsic or silicic lavas such as rhyolite and dacite typically form lava spines, lava domes or coulees (which are thick, short lava flows) and are associated with pyroclastic (fragmental) deposits. Most silicic lava flows are extremely viscous, and typically fragment as they extrude, producing blocky autobreccias. The high viscosity and strength are the result of their chemistry, which is high in silica, aluminium, potassium, sodium, and calcium, forming a polymerized liquid rich in feldspar and quartz, and thus has a higher viscosity than other magma types. Felsic magmas can erupt at temperatures as low as 650 to 750 °C (1,202 to 1,382 °F). Unusually hot (>950 °C; >1,740 °F) rhyolite lavas, however, may flow for distances of many tens of kilometres, such as in the Snake River Plain of the northwestern United States. Intermediate lava Intermediate or andesitic lavas are lower in aluminium and silica, and usually somewhat richer in magnesium and iron. Intermediate lavas form andesite domes and block lavas, and may occur on steep composite volcanoes, such as in the Andes. Poorer in aluminium and silica than felsic lavas, and also commonly hotter (in the range of 750 to 950 °C (1,380 to 1,740 °F)), they tend to be less viscous. Greater temperatures tend to destroy polymerized bonds within the magma, promoting more fluid behaviour and also a greater tendency to form phenocrysts. Higher iron and magnesium tends to manifest as a darker groundmass, and also occasionally amphibole or pyroxene phenocrysts. Mafic lava Mafic or basaltic lavas are typified by their high ferromagnesian content, and generally erupt at temperatures in excess of 950 °C (1,740 °F). Basaltic magma is high in iron and magnesium, and has relatively lower aluminium and silica, which taken together reduces the degree of polymerization within the melt. Owing to the higher temperatures, viscosities can be relatively low, although still thousands of times higher than water. The low degree of polymerization and high temperature favors chemical diffusion, so it is common to see large, well-formed phenocrysts within mafic lavas. Basalt lavas tend to produce low-profile shield volcanoes or flood basalt fields, because the fluidal lava flows for long distances from the vent. The thickness of a basalt lava, particularly on a low slope, may be much greater than the thickness of the moving lava flow at any one time, because basalt lavas may inflate by supply of lava beneath a solidified crust. Most basalt lavas are of ʻAʻā or pāhoehoe types, rather than block lavas. Underwater, they can form pillow lavas, which are rather similar to entrail-type pahoehoe lavas on land. Ultramafic lava Ultramafic lavas such as komatiite and highly magnesian magmas that form boninite take the composition and temperatures of eruptions to the extreme. Komatiites contain over 18% magnesium oxide, and are thought to have erupted at temperatures of 1,600 °C (2,910 °F). At this temperature there is no polymerization of the mineral compounds, creating a highly mobile liquid Most if not all ultramafic lavas are no younger than the Proterozoic, with a few ultramafic magmas known from the Phanerozoic. No modern komatiite lavas are known, as the Earth's mantle has cooled too much to produce highly magnesian magmas. Unusual lavas Some lavas of unusual composition have erupted onto the surface of the Earth. These include: • Carbonatite and natrocarbonatite lavas are known from Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano in Tanzania, which is the sole example of an active carbonatite volcano. • Iron oxide lavas are thought to be the source of the iron ore at Kiruna, Sweden which formed during the Proterozoic. Iron oxide lavas of Pliocene age occur at the El Laco volcanic complex on the Chile-Argentina border. Iron oxide lavas are thought to be the result of immiscible separation of iron oxide magma from a parental magma of calc-alkaline or alkaline composition. • Sulfur lava flows up to 250 metres (820 feet) long and 10 metres (33 feet) wide occur at Lastarria volcano, Chile. They were formed by the melting of sulfur deposits at temperatures as low as 113 °C (235 °F). • Olivine nephelinite lavas are thought to have come from much deeper in the mantle of the Earth than other lavas. The term lava can also be used to refer to molten ice mixtures in eruptions on the icy satellites of the Solar System's gas giants. In general, the composition of a lava determines its behavior more than the temperature of its eruption. The viscosity of lava is important because it determines how the lava will behave. Lavas with high viscosity are rhyolite, dacite, andesite and trachyte, with cooled basaltic lava also quite viscous; those with low viscosities are freshly erupted basalt, carbonatite and occasionally andesite. Highly viscous lava shows the following behaviors: • tends to flow slowly, clog, and form semi-solid blocks which resist flow • tends to entrap gas, which form vesicles (bubbles) within the rock as they rise to the surface • correlates with explosive or phreatic eruptions and is associated with tuff and pyroclastic flows. Highly viscous lavas do not usually flow as liquid, and usually form explosive fragmental ash or tephra deposits. However, a degassed viscous lava or one which erupts somewhat hotter than usual may form a lava flow. Lava with low viscosity shows the following behaviors: • tends to flow easily, forming puddles, channels, and rivers of molten rock • tends to easily release bubbling gases as they are formed • eruptions are rarely pyroclastic and are usually quiescent • volcanoes tend to form broad shields rather than steep cones Lavas also may contain many other components, sometimes including solid crystals of various minerals, fragments of exotic rocks known as xenoliths and fragments of previously solidified lava. Lava flow speeds vary based primarily on viscosity and slope. In general, lava flows slowly (0.25 mph), with maximum speeds between 6–30 mph on steep slopes. An exceptional speed of 20–60 mph was recorded following the collapse of a lava lake at Mount Nyiragongo.