Types of Volcanic Eruptions

Not every volcanic eruption that occurs is the same as the next. There are different classifications that exists for volcanic eruptions.  The article I read named several of these which I will discuss in just a moment.  There are a fair amount and I was surprised at the differences.

The first is named a Hawaiian Eruption. This type of eruption got its name from the Kilauea volcano on the big island of Hawaii.  What occurs during one of these eruptions is a spectacular fire fountain show.  A fluid like basaltic lava spits out from the ground in jets and can last for days.  This usually occurs at the summit or the flank of the volcano.  The lava spitting out can combine and form lava flows down the mountain.

The second type is called a Strombolian eruption.  This form is caused by a gas bubble exploding up the the magma conduit until it reaches the top in the open air.  The lava explodes out of the top and can reach heights of hundreds of meters.  This can create various forms of eruptive products like the ones we have discussed in class.  This list includes spatter, scoria, lava bombs, and lava flows.

Vulcanian eruptions are the third type.  These are short, violent eruptions of viscous magma.  This explosion occurs when there is a fragmentation or explosion of a plug of lava in a volcano conduit.  The speed of the explosions can reach over 800 miles per hour and rise kilometers in the air.  It was named after a small volcano on the island of Vulcano where it was thought the it was the vent of the Roman smith god Vulcan.

The largest and most violent volcano is the Plinian form.  This is the same type of eruption that occurred on Mount St. Helen.  It can destroy entire mountain tops and release clouds of ash and gas that can rise up to 35 miles in the air.  The lava flow that obliterates anything in its path and can remove the bedrock from the soil.

The final two forms are called lava domes and Surtseyan eruptions.  Lava domes occur when lava is squeezed out of vents without exploding. It can pile into a dome which can grow or be squeezed out of the dome.  These can go on for months or years, but the volcano sometimes destroys the domes and builds them up again before the explosion ceases.  The Surtseyan eruption occurs when magma or lava explodes when touching water.  The water touches the magma and explodes in a burst of steam.   It creates pockets of ash, steam, and scoria.

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