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Magma vs. Lava: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on January 19, 2024
Magma is molten rock beneath the Earth's surface, while lava is magma that has erupted onto the surface, cooling and solidifying into igneous rock.
Magma vs. Lava

Key Differences

Magma is found beneath the Earth's surface, in the mantle and crust, where high temperatures melt rocks. Lava is what magma becomes once it erupts from a volcano or fissure.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 19, 2024
Magma can vary in composition, influencing the type of rock it forms. Lava, upon cooling and solidifying, becomes igneous rock, its type dependent on the original magma composition.
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Jan 19, 2024
Magma chambers are reservoirs of molten rock deep within the Earth. When this magma reaches the surface, it flows or explodes out as lava, visibly shaping landscapes.
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The movement of magma beneath the Earth can cause volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Lava flows can create new landforms and drastically alter ecosystems.
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Magma's properties, such as its viscosity and gas content, determine the nature of a volcanic eruption. Lava flows vary in speed and temperature, influenced by these properties.
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Comparison Chart

Location

Beneath Earth's surface
On Earth's surface
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State Before Eruption

Molten rock, undisturbed
Erupted, flowing or solidifying
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Composition

Varies, determines eruption type
Same as magma, forms igneous rock
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Impact on Earth

Causes eruptions, earthquakes
Creates landforms, alters terrain
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Visibility

Not visible until eruption
Visible as it flows or cools
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Magma and Lava Definitions

Magma

Molten rock beneath the Earth's crust.
Geologists study magma to understand volcanic activity.
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Jan 03, 2024

Lava

Can flow or spew during volcanic eruptions.
The lava spewed high into the air.
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Jan 03, 2024

Magma

A mixture of molten or semi-molten rock, volatiles, and solids.
Magma's composition affects the type of eruption.
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Jan 03, 2024

Lava

Magma that reaches the Earth's surface.
Lava flowed from the volcano during the eruption.
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Magma

Drives volcanic eruptions.
The volcano erupted when pressure in the magma chamber increased.
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Lava

Molten rock that solidifies into igneous rock.
The lava cooled to form a new rock formation.
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Magma

Stored in chambers under volcanoes.
Magma chambers can hold vast amounts of molten rock.
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Lava

Creates new landforms when cooled.
The lava flow created a new island.
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Magma

The precursor to igneous rock.
Magma cools to form various types of igneous rocks.
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Jan 03, 2024

Lava

Varies in temperature and speed.
The fast-moving lava destroyed everything in its path.
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Magma

(Geology) The molten rock material under the earth's crust, from which igneous rock is formed by cooling.
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Jan 02, 2024

Lava

Molten rock that reaches the earth's surface through a volcano or fissure.
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Jan 02, 2024

Magma

(Pharmacology) A suspension of particles in a liquid, such as milk of magnesia.
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Jan 02, 2024

Lava

The rock formed by the cooling and solidifying of molten rock.
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Jan 02, 2024

Magma

A mixture of finely divided solids with enough liquid to produce a pasty mass.
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Jan 02, 2024

Lava

The molten rock ejected by a volcano from its crater or fissured sides.
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Magma

(Archaic) The residue of fruits after the juice has been expressed; pomace.
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Lava

Magma.
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Magma

(geology) The molten matter within the earth, the source of the material of lava flows, dikes of eruptive rocks, etc.
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Lava

A shade of red, named after the volcanic lava.
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Jan 02, 2024

Magma

(mathematics) A basic algebraic structure consisting of a set equipped with a single binary operation.
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Lava

The melted rock ejected by a volcano from its top or fissured sides. It flows out in streams sometimes miles in length. It also issues from fissures in the earth's surface, and forms beds covering many square miles, as in the Northwestern United States.
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Magma

Any soft doughy mass.
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Lava

Rock that in its molten form (as magma) issues from volcanos; lava is what magma is called when it reaches the surface
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Jan 02, 2024

Magma

The residuum after expressing the juice from fruits.
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Jan 02, 2024

Magma

Any crude mixture of mineral or organic matters in the state of a thin paste.
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Jan 02, 2024

Magma

A thick residuum obtained from certain substances after the fluid parts are expressed from them; the grounds which remain after treating a substance with any menstruum, as water or alcohol.
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Jan 02, 2024

Magma

The molten matter within the earth, the source of the material of lava flows, dikes of eruptive rocks, etc.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 02, 2024

Magma

The amorphous or homogenous matrix or ground mass, as distinguished from well-defined crystals; as, the magma of porphyry.
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Jan 02, 2024

Magma

Molten rock in the earth's crust
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Jan 02, 2024

Repeatedly Asked Queries

How hot is lava?

Lava temperatures can range from 700 to 1,200 °C.
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Jan 19, 2024

What is lava?

Lava is magma that has erupted onto the Earth's surface.
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Jan 19, 2024

Can we see magma?

Magma is not visible until it erupts as lava.
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Jan 19, 2024

Can lava create new land?

Yes, lava can create new landforms as it cools.
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Jan 19, 2024

What is magma?

Magma is molten rock under the Earth's surface.
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Jan 19, 2024

How do magma and lava affect the Earth?

They shape landscapes through eruptions and lava flows.
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How fast does lava flow?

Lava flow speed varies, depending on its viscosity.
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Jan 19, 2024

Does magma composition vary?

Yes, magma composition varies, affecting eruption types.
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Jan 19, 2024

What happens when lava cools?

It solidifies into various forms of igneous rock.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 19, 2024

Is all magma the same?

No, magma's composition and properties can differ significantly.
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Jan 19, 2024

How is magma studied?

Magma is studied through geological surveys and volcanic monitoring.
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Jan 19, 2024

What determines lava's viscosity?

Lava's viscosity is influenced by its temperature and silica content.
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Jan 19, 2024

What causes magma to erupt?

Magma erupts due to pressure and temperature changes.
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Can we predict volcanic eruptions?

Predictions are possible but not always accurate.
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Are there different types of lava flows?

Yes, including pahoehoe, aa, and pillow lava.
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Where is magma found?

Magma is found in the Earth's mantle and crust.
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Jan 19, 2024

Can magma be used for energy?

Yes, geothermal energy exploits heat from magma.
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What are lava tubes?

Lava tubes are natural conduits formed by flowing lava.
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Do all volcanoes produce the same lava?

No, lava types vary among different volcanoes.
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What are lava's main components?

Lava consists of molten rock, minerals, and gases.
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Jan 19, 2024

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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