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The Volcanic Explosivity Index, or VEI, was proposed in 1982 as a way to describe the relative size or magnitude of explosive volcanic eruptions. It is a 0-to-8 index of increasing explosivity. Each increase in number represents an increase around a factor of ten. The VEI uses several factors to assign a number, including volume of erupted pyroclastic material (for example, ashfall, pyroclastic flows, and other ejecta), height of eruption column, duration in hours, and qualitative descriptive terms. In the figure above, the volumes of several past explosive eruptions and the corresponding VEI are shown. Numbers in parentheses represent total volume of erupted pyroclastic material (tephra, volcanic ash, and pyroclastic flows) for selected eruptions; the volumes are for uncompacted deposits. Each step increase represents a ten fold increase in the volume of erupted pyroclastic material. A series of small to moderate explosive eruptions from Mono-Inyo Craters Volcanic Chain, California, during the past 5,000 years ranged from VEI of 1 to 3. The 18 May 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens was a VEI 5 with an erupted volume of about 1 km3. The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo had a volume of about 10 km3 and a VEI of 5 to 6. The 1815 eruption of Tambora, Indonesia, had a VEI of 7 and a volume in excess of 100 km3. The eruption of Long Valley Caldera about 760,000 years ago had a VEI of 7 and a volume of 600 km3 of material. The largest explosive eruption on the figure occurred at Yellowstone about 600,000 years ago with a VEI of 8 and a volume of about 1,000 km3 of material

Pumice is a light, porous volcanic rock that forms during explosive eruptions. It resembles a sponge because it consists of a network of gas bubbles frozen amidst fragile volcanic glass and minerals. All types of magma (basalt, andesite, dacite, and rhyolite) will form pumice. Pumice is similar to the liquid foam generated when a bottle of pressurized soda is opened--the opening depressurizes the soda and enables dissolved carbon dioxide gas to escape or erupt through the opening. During an explosive eruption, volcanic gases

Tephra includes large dense blocks and bombs. Philippines.dissolved in the liquid portion of magma also expand rapidly to create a foam or froth. Tephra Tephra is a general term for fragments of volcanic rock and lava regardless of size that are blasted into the air by explosions or carried upward by hot gases in eruption columns or lava fountains. Photograph by D.E. the average size of the individual rock particles becomes smaller and thickness of the resulting deposit becomes thinner. Vents may consist of a single circular-shaped structure. Small tephra stays aloft in the eruption cloud for longer periods of time. Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. and ash. Scott on 27 June 1991 Dacitic pumice fragments erupted by Mount Pinatubo. in the case of pumice. Photograph by E. The release of volcanic gases and the eruption of molten rock will result in an assortment of constructional features ranging from enormous shield volcanoes and calderas to fumaroles and small rootless hornitos. Helens on 18 May 1980 ranging in size from ash (left 2 piles) to lapilli (right 2 piles). Photograph by C. Hawai`i. which allows wind to blow tiny particles farther from an erupting volcano. pumice. Wolfe on 24 June 1991 Volcanic ash falls to ground and creates darkness. Photograph by W. Heliker on 21 February 1997 Small lava fountain erupts from a new vent on the flank of Pu`u `O`o spatter and cinder cone on the east rift zone of Kilauea Volcano. Vent Vents are openings in the Earth's crust from which molten rock and volcanic gases escape onto the ground or into the atmosphere. reticulite. and small light rock debris such as scoria. a large elongate fissure and fracture. As tephra falls to the ground with increasing distance from a volcano. Wieprecht Tephra erupted by Mount St. the liquid part of the froth quickly solidifies to glass around the glass bubbles. or a tiny ground crack. . during an enormous eruption on 15 June 1991.

plutonic comes from Pluto. pyroxene. it typically forms thick rounded lava flow in the shape of a dome. Volcanic rocks (also called extrusive igneous rocks) include all the products resulting from eruptions of lava (flows and fragmented debris called pyroclasts). the Greek god of the underworld. All but basalt commonly generate highly explosive eruptions. The classification scheme below is based on chemistry. Photograph by R. More about volcanic and plutonic rocks Close view of dacite lava from the May 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak. Usually constructed over a period of tens to hundreds of thousands of years. Volcanic and plutonic rocks are divided further on the basis of chemistry and mineral composition. When relatively gas-poor dacite erupts onto a volcano's surface. dacite. and rhyolite. A stratovolcano typically consists of many separate vents. McGimsey on 15 July 1990 Mount Mageik volcano viewed from the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. The initial distinction between volcanic and plutonic rocks is made on the basis of texture (fine-grained volcanic vs. the Latin word for fire. stratovolcanoes may erupt a variety of magma types. Katmai National Park and Preserve. Alaska. coarse-grained plutonic). including basalt. A synonym is composite cone. Common minerals include plagioclase feldspar. are called stratovolcanoes. and amphibole.Stratovolcano Steep. California Types of Igneous Rocks An igneous rock is formed by the cooling and crystallization of molten rock. and pyroclastic flows. The term igneous is derived from ignius. andesite. Scientists have divided igneous rocks into two broad categories based on where the molten rock solidified. Dacite lava consists of about 63 to 68 percent silica (SiO2). and is perhaps the simplest method. some of which may have erupted cinder cones and domes on the volcano's flanks. It is one of the most common rock types associated with enormous Plinian-style eruptions. Dacite Dacite lava is most often light gray. Mageik's broad summit consists of at least four separate structures built above different vents. tephra. conical volcanoes built by the eruption of viscous lava flows. Plutonic rocks (also called intrusive igneous rocks) are those that have solidified below ground. Dacite generally erupts at temperatures between 800 and 1000°C. but can be dark gray to black. there are many other .

it has the lowest viscosity (the least resistance to flow). calcium (CaO). Classification and Flow Characteristics of Volcanic Rocks Illustration by J. even down gentle slopes. magnesium (MgO). Johnson . sodium (Na2O). and the rate of lava eruption. aluminum (A2O3). however. amounts. The bar graph shows the average concentration of each major element for the four basic types of volcanic rock.classification methods for igneous rocks. Thus. tend to pile up around a vent to form short. Classification and major oxide compounds of igneous rocks Classification and flow characteristics of volcanic rocks Components of igneous rocks Illustration by J. explosiveness. and phosphorous (P2O5). Components of Igneous Rocks Illustration by J. Dacite and rhyolite lava. basalt lava moves over the ground easily. These rock types all have different characteristics. including temperature when fluid. viscosity (resistance to flow). Because basalt contains the least amount of silica and erupts at the highest temperature compared to the other types of lava. Johnson The behavior of a lava flow depends primarily on its viscosity (resistance to flow). composition. potassium (K2O. Johnson Volcanic rocks are typically divided into four basic types according to the amount of silica (SiO2) in the rock (see figure at bottom. and types. manganese (MnO). for the plutonic equivalents of these rock types): • basalt consists of about 48-52% silica • andesite consists of about 52-63% silica • dacite consists of about 63-68% slica • rhyolite consists of more than 68% silica Other major elements in varying proportion include titanium (TiO2). slope of the ground over which it travels. and sizes of minerals. Components of Igneous Rocks. stubby flows or mound-shaped domes. iron (FeO or Fe2O3).

3. A slow rate of cooling will produce a coarse-grained plutonic rock that consists entirely of large crystals.8% plagioclase. a rhyolite volcanic rock with 10% crystals. freezing the growth of existing minerals and preventing the development of new minerals. This graph shows the volume percent of minerals present in a plutonic rock that consists entirely of crystals.8% alkali feldspar.2% biotite. The volume percent of minerals present in volcanic rocks typically varies 0-50%. and 12% biotite. is likely to 2.2% quartz. and 1. For example. . To calculate the relative amounts of the crystals likely to be present. 2. For example. Molten rock that remains below the ground. plutonic rocks of basaltic composition are called gabbro). however. 38% alkali feldspar. multiply the volume percent in the graph by the actual volume percent in the rock. Such rapid cooling will typically produce lava rocks with a few small minerals suspended in a groundmass of volcanic glass. cools very slowly so that existing minerals continue to grow and many new minerals develop. 28% plagioclase feldspar.When molten rock erupts onto the Earth's surface. a granite with 70% SiO2 might have 22% quartz. it cools quickly. Different names are given to such slow-cooling plutonic rocks on the basis of chemical composition and mineral proportions (for example.