Tap to Read ➤

Types of Volcanic Eruptions

Batul Nafisa Baxamusa Jun 18, 2019
There are different types of volcanic eruptions that occur around the world, depending on the magma spewed, as well as other geographic factors. Let us take a look at the various types of volcanic eruptions shaking up people and their lives around the world.
Volcano, when you think of it, you immediately imagine a huge mountain covered in a cloud of thick smoke and dust. Hot, molten lava regurgitating from the belly of the mountain streaming down its sides. This lava turns every object in its path to ashes.
The Hollywood movie Dante's Peak will give you a good idea as to how a volcano erupts. Volcanoes are never the same. They erupt in different ways. Some are very big volcanoes and some are rather small. Some volcanic eruptions erupt in a short span of time, and some take days to spit out the hot lava.
A few volcanoes love making huge explosions and some blow up quietly. Thus, it is important to note the various types of volcanic eruptions, especially if one is living in a volcano prone area. This will help one understand all the volcanic hazards and give an idea how to escape if a volcanic alarm is sounded.
Experts have tried to classify volcanoes based on the type of eruptions. However, it is important to note, nature does not know about the definitions made by man. Nature lives by its own rules and will not mind bending some of its laws with time. However, this write-up will try to map types of volcanic eruptions.

Volcanic Eruption Types

When a volcano is active, it will exhibit a typical behavior. This means some volcanoes cause a mild eruption that lead to discharge of just steam and gases. Some aggressive volcanoes release high quantities of molten lava.
There are different types of volcanoes, and depending on the behavior of a well-known volcano, types of eruptions are named. Some volcanoes have a characteristic eruption form and some show a wide array of sequential eruption types.

Hawaiian Eruptions

Hawaiian eruptions are commonly seen in the volcanoes of Hawaii. This eruption causes flow of a steady supply of gas-poor magma fluid. The fluid basaltic lava is thrown out in form of jets from a single vent, or many fissures at the summit of the volcano.
This results in formation of a fire fountain that can last for a few hours or even days. As the hot lava flowing out of the summit comes together, they form a lava flow. They can even form hills of lava called spatter cones. The lava from Hawaiian eruptions is very fluid in nature and can therefore flow down for miles, before it cools off and hardens.

Fast Fact

The Hawaiian eruptions are named after the famous Kilauea volcano. It is present on the Big Island of Hawaii. This mountain is known for its famous fire fountains.

Strombolian Eruptions

These are a little similar to the Hawaiian eruptions. They too spill out easy flowing lava containing very little gas. There are distinct bursts of basaltic andesite lava from the summit conduit.
These explosions occur after every few minutes or after some intervals. These explosions are huge, and cause lava to reach hundreds of meters in the air. This causes the formation of different eruptive products together called tephra. This includes a hardened globs of shiny lava (spatter), hardened blocks of bubbly lava (scoria), lava bombs, etc.
The Strombolian eruptions often cause small lava lakes. Although they are considered to be the least dangerous of all explosive eruptions, they can cause a lot of destruction due to their lava flowing into inhabited regions.

Fast Fact

These eruptions are named after the Island of Stromboli in Italy. These eruptions appear very spectacular at dusk, as the lava tends to have a bright glow.

Plinian Eruptions

The most violent of all eruptions as well as the most destructive are the Plinian eruptions. These eruptions are caused after the separation of gassy lava. These eruptions cause a huge column of gas and ash.
These ash columns tend to drift thousands of miles away from the site of volcano. These ash columns are shaped like a mushrooms. These volcanoes produce eruption products like ash, scoria as well as lava bombs.

Fast Fact

The Plinian volcanoes are named after a Roman historian, Pliny, the Younger.

Lava Domes

Lava domes are eruptions that lead to formation of thick lava that does not explode, but squeezes out of a vent. The lava that comes out of the vents is known as lava lobes. These lava lobes are long, thin, or short or may even form spikes.
These lava domes are round in shape or irregular rock of piles. These eruptions can continue for months or years. These volcanic domes are repetitive in nature, that is, they are built and destroyed by the volcano several times, before entering the dormant state again.

Fast Fact

The active examples of lava dome eruptions includes the Redoubt volcano in Alaska as well as the Chaiten in Chile.

Surtseyan Eruptions

The Surtseyan eruptions are the type of volcanic eruptions that take pace in shallow lakes or seas. These are violent eruptions that cause basaltic or andesitic magma to come in contact with water.
In this case, the lava tends to react explosively when it comes in contact with water. This is because water expands when heated, and after coming in contact with hot molten it explodes. This causes formation of volcanic eruption products like ash, steam and scoaria.

Fast Fact

The Surtseyan eruptions are named after the island of Surtsey of the coast of Iceland. They are commonly referred to as phreatomagmatic eruptions.

Vulcanian Eruptions

The Vulcanian eruptions are short explosions that are very violent. They occur due to the fragmentation in a lava plug present in the volcanic conduit. It may even occur due to rupture of a volcanic vent.
These eruptions lead to production of tephra, ash clouds and clouds of hot ash, gas and rocks. They are repetitive in nature and may continue to erupt for days, months or even years.

Fast Fact

The Vulcanian eruptions are named after an island in Italy, Vulcano. They were first described by Giuseppe Mercalli in 1888-1889.
This was a little information about the types of volcanic eruptions that take place on the face of the Earth. Volcanic eruptions can be called a wrath of nature or an indigestion occurring in the belly of the planet. Volcanoes are highly destructive and will turn everything in its path to dust.