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A Dictionary of Geology and Earth Sciences
Michael AllabyMichael Allaby


A naturally occurring vent or fissure at the Earth's surface through which erupt molten, solid, and gaseous materials. The viscosity, gas content, and rate of extrusion of the magma probably determine the shape of the mountain built by the eruptions. The magma may reach the surface either through a single channel (see central vent volcano), or through a series of vertical fractures (see fissure volcano). Types of eruptions are named after volcanoes associated with them. See hawaiian eruption; peléean eruption; plinian eruption; strombolian eruption; surtseyan eruption; vesuvian eruption; vulcanian eruption.