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Definitions of Volcanic and Geologic Terms

For study purposes, can you provide me with a glossary of volcanic and geologic terms with definitions provided?

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Glossary of Volcanic and Geologic Terms

'A'a: Hawaiian word used to describe a lava flow whose surface is broken into rough angular fragments. Click here to view a photo of 'a'a.

Accessory: A mineral whose presence in a rock is not essential to the proper classification of the rock.

Accidental: Pyroclastic rocks that are formed from fragments of non-volcanic rocks or from volcanic rocks not related to the erupting volcano.

Accretionary Lava Ball: A rounded mass, ranging in diameter from a few centimeters to several meters, [carried] on the surface of a lava flow (e.g., 'a'a) or on cinder-cone slopes [and formed] by the molding of viscous lava around a core of already solidified lava.

Acid: A descriptive term applied to igneous rocks with more than 60% silica (SiO2).
Active Volcano: A volcano that is erupting. Also, a volcano that is not presently erupting, but that has erupted within historical time and is considered likely to do so in the future.

Agglutinate: A pyroclastic deposit consisting of an accumulation of originally plastic ejecta and formed by the coherence of the fragments upon solidification.

Alkalic: Rocks which contain above average amounts of sodium and/or potassium for the group of rocks for which it belongs. For example, the basalts of the capping stage of Hawaiian volcanoes are alkalic. They contain more sodium and/or potassium than the shield-building basalts that make the bulk of the volcano.

Andesite: Volcanic rock (or lava) characteristically medium dark in color and containing 54 to 62 percent silica and moderate amounts of iron and magnesium.
Ash: Fine particles of pulverized rock blown from an explosion vent. Measuring less than 1/10 inch in diameter, ash may be either solid or molten when first erupted. By far the most common variety is vitric ash (glassy particles formed by gas bubbles bursting through liquid magma).

Ashfall (Airfall): Volcanic ash that has fallen through the air from an eruption cloud. A deposit so formed is usually well sorted and layered.

Ash Flow: A turbulent mixture of gas and rock fragments, most of which are ash-sized particles, ejected violently from a crater or fissure. The mass of pyroclastics is normally of very high temperature and moves rapidly down the slopes or even along a level surface.

Asthenosphere: The shell within the earth, some tens of kilometers below the surface and of undefined thickness, which is a shell of weakness where plastic movements take place to permit pressure adjustments.

Aquifer: A body of rock that contains significant quantities of water that can be tapped by wells or springs.

Avalanche: A large mass of material or mixtures of material falling or sliding rapidly under the force of gravity. Avalanches often are classified by their content, such as snow, ice, soil, or rock avalanches. A mixture of these materials is a debris avalanche.

Basalt: Volcanic rock (or lava) that characteristically is dark in color, contains 45% to 54% silica, and generally is rich in iron and magnesium.

Basement: The undifferentiated rocks that underlie the rocks of interest in an area.

Basic: A descriptive term applied to igneous rocks (basalt and gabbro) with silica (SiO2) between 44% and 52%.

Bench: The unstable, newly-formed front of a lava delta.

Blister: A swelling of the crust of a lava flow formed by the puffing-up of gas or vapor beneath the flow. Blisters are about 1 meter in diameter and hollow.

Block: Angular chunk of solid rock ejected during an eruption.

Bomb: Fragment of molten or semi-molten rock, 2 1/2 inches to many feet in diameter, which is blown out during an eruption. Because of their plastic condition, bombs are often modified in shape during their flight or upon impact.

Caldera: The Spanish word for cauldron, a basin-shaped volcanic depression; by definition, at least a mile in diameter. Such large depressions are typically formed by the subsidence of volcanoes. Crater Lake occupies the best-known caldera in the Cascades.

Capping Stage: Refers to a stage in the evolution of a typical Hawaiian volcano during which alkalic, basalt, and related rocks build a steeply, sloping cap on the main shield of the volcano. Eruptions are less frequent, but more explosive. The summit caldera may be buried.

Central Vent: A central vent is an opening at the Earth's surface of a volcanic conduit of cylindrical or pipe-like form.
Central Volcano: A volcano constructed by the ejection of debris and lava flows from a central point, forming a more or less symmetrical volcano.

Cinder Cone: A volcanic cone built entirely of loose fragmented material (pyroclastics.)

Cirque: A steep-walled horseshoe-shaped recess high on a mountain that is formed by glacial erosion.

Cleavage: The breaking of a mineral along crystallographic planes, that reflects a crystal structure.

Composite Volcano: A steep volcanic cone built by both lava flows and pyroclastic eruptions.

Compound Volcano: A volcano that consists of a complex of two or more vents, or a volcano that has an associated volcanic dome, either in its crater or on its flanks. Examples are Vesuvius and Mont Pelee.

Compression Waves: Earthquake waves that move like a slinky. As the wave moves to the left, for example, it expands and compresses in the same direction as it moves. Usage of compression waves.

Conduit: A passage followed by magma in a volcano.

Continental Crust: Solid, outer layers of the earth, including the rocks of the continents. Usage of continental crust.

Continental Drift: The theory that horizontal movement of the earth's surface causes slow, relative movements of the continents toward or away from one another.

Country Rocks: The rock intruded by and surrounding an igneous intrusion.

Crater: A steep-sided, usually circular depression formed by either explosion or collapse at a volcanic vent.

Craton: A part of the earth's crust that has attained stability and has been little deformed for a prolonged period.

Curtain of Fire: A row of coalescing lava fountains along a fissure; a typical feature of a Hawaiian-type eruption.

Dacite: Volcanic rock (or lava) that characteristically is light in color and contains 62% to 69% silica and moderate a mounts of sodium and potassium.

Debris Avalanche: A rapid and unusually sudden sliding or flowage of unsorted masses of rock and other material. As applied to the major avalanche involved in the eruption of Mount St. Helens, a rapid mass movement that included fragmented cold and hot volcanic rock, water, snow, glacier ice, trees, and some hot pyroclastic material. Most of the May 18, 1980 deposits in the upper valley of the North Fork Toutle River and in the vicinity of Spirit Lake are from the debris avalanche.

Debris Flow: A mixture of water-saturated rock debris that flows downslope under the force of gravity (also called lahar or mudflow).

Detachment Plane: The surface along which a landslide disconnects from its original position.

Devonian: A period of time in the Paleozoic Era that covered the time span between 400 and 345 million years.

Diatreme: A breccia filled volcanic pipe that was formed by a gaseous explosion.

Dike: A sheetlike body of igneous rock that cuts across layering or contacts in the rock into which it intrudes.

Dome: A steep-sided mass of viscous (doughy) lava extruded from a volcanic vent (often circular in plane view) and spiny, rounded, or flat on top. Its surface is often rough and blocky as a result of fragmentation ...

Solution Summary

For study purposes, this solution provides definitions of volcanic and geologic terms ranging from A to Z.