Paleogeology, Paleoclimate, in relation to Evolution of Life on Earth


The silica content of magma, along with amount of dissolved gas, affects the nature of volcanic eruptions as wells as the amount and composition of lava extruded during an eruption.

Volcanic rocksandesitesbasaltsdacitesrhyolites

Lava composition

_felsic > 63% silica = viscous
Rhyolite is named from the Greek for 'steam', and rhyolitic magma often erupts explosively because its high silica content results in extremely high viscosity, which hinders degassing. Effusive eruptions of rhyolite often produce obsidian, which is bubble-free and black. When bubbles form, they can cause the magma to explode, fragmenting the rock into pumice and tiny particles of volcanic ash. Some of the United States' largest and most active calderas formed during eruption of rhyolitic magmas (for example, Yellowstone in Wyoming, Long Valley in California and Valles in New Mexico). Rhyolite is the volcanic equivalent of plutonic granite.
– Even though dacite contains less silica than rhyolite, dacite can be even more viscous, and so just as dangerous as rhyolites. Dacite was erupted from Mount St. Helens 1980-86, Mount Pinatubo in 1991, and Mount Unzen 1991-1996.

_intermediate 52-63% silica
Andesite magma commonly erupts from stratovolcanoes as thick lava flows, and can also generate strong explosive eruptions to form pyroclastic flows and surges and enormous eruption columns. Andesite, which is common in the Andes mountains, was the main rock type erupted during the great Krakatau eruption of 1883.

_mafic 45 - 52%
Basalt's low silica content gives it a low viscosity (resistance to flow), so basaltic lava can flow quickly and can easily move >20 km from a vent. The low viscosity of basaltic magma usually allows volcanic gases to escape without generating enormous eruption columns. However, basaltic lava fountains and fissure eruptions still form explosive fountains hundreds of meters tall. Shield volcanoes, such as those in the Hawaiian islands (movies), are composed almost entirely of basalt, which is the commonest rock type in the Earth's crust; huge, ancient outpourings of lava called 'flood basalts' make up large igneous provinces on many continents; and, most of the ocean floor is basalt that has been extruded at spreading mid-ocean ridges. aa, aa active photo, hornito, lava tube, lava lake, pahoehoe, pahoehoe photo, pahoehoe active photo, Pele's hair, Pele's tears, tumulus

_ultramafic ≤ 45%

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