What's the Difference Between Magma and Lava?
And why do some volcanoes explode and others only ooze? It all comes down to their gooey centers.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano keeps erupting with syrupy lava flows, serving as a fiery reminder of nature's destructive power. But as the ongoing eruption captures headlines, a question might occur to you: What's the difference between magma and lava?
The distinction between magma and lava is all about location. When geologists refer to magma, they're talking about molten rock that's still trapped underground. If this molten rock makes it to the surface and keeps flowing like a liquid, it's called lava.
Magmas vary in their chemical composition, which gives them—and the volcanoes that contain them—different properties.
Since silicic magmas are colder and goopier than mafic magmas, dissolved gases have a harder time venting out of them. This makes