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The Winter 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist includes a variety of educational resources, ranging from astronomy to glaciers. Check out the other publications and classroom materials in our online store.
This is a drawing of magma percolating up through the crust, causing the volcano to expand prior to eruption.
Click on image for full size

Volcano Formation

Volcanoes form when hot material from below rises and leaks into the crust. This hot material, called magma, comes either from a melt of subducted crustal material, which is light and buoyant after melting, or it may come from deeper in the interior of a planet and is light and buoyant because it is *very* hot.

Magma, rising from lower reaches, gathers in a reservoir, in a porous region of overlying rock called the magma chamber. Eventually, but not always, the magma erupts onto the surface. Strong earthquakes accompany rising magma, and the volcanic cone may swell in appearance, just before an eruption, as illustrated in this picture. Scientist often monitor the changing appearance of a volcano, especially prior to an eruption. The different reasons why a volcano forms are

  • via plumes or hot spots in the lithosphere
  • as a result of subduction of the nearby lithosphere


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Plumes

A mantle plume is a bubble of material which rises to the lithosphere from the deep interior of the planet. The plume is the red portion shown in the drawing to the left. Such plumes are thought to form...more

Magma Chamber

Magma consists of remelted material from Earth's crust and fresh material from the aesthenosphere, relatively near the Earth's surface. When magma is erupted onto the surface in the form of lava, it becomes...more

Plume Volcanism

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Subduction

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Mountain Building

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Volcanic Ash

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