Magma vs Lava: Difference and Comparison

We all have come across these two terms while studying geography. Magma and lava are both related to volcanoes. Both being closely related causes confusion to many. Basically, magma and lava are made of the same things. They get distinguished based on their location. To clarify your concept, read on to satisfy your curiosity.

Key Takeaways

  1. Magma exists below Earth’s surface, while lava flows on the surface after a volcanic eruption.
  2. Magma has a higher viscosity than lava, making it thicker and more flow-resistant.
  3. Lava solidifies into various rock formations, whereas magma remains a molten mixture of minerals and gases.

Magma vs Lava

Magma is actually the rocks, which turn into an extremely hot liquid due to the head under the surface of earth. It finds cracks on the earth surface to come out of the volcano. The mixture of molten rock that comes out of volcanoes is known as lava. It evolves into the other form when it cools down.

Magma vs Lava

Magma signifies the molten rock mixture that prevails under the earth’s crust. Magma is extremely hot and takes a lot of time to cool down, but when it cools down, at last, it takes the form of plutonic rock. Nowadays, the heat and pressure of the magma get used to generate power.

When magma finds cracks and holds, it comes out of the earth’s surface, called lava. The thickness of the lava decides the scale of damage. Just like magma, lava gets cool too gradually and takes less time than magma. The semi-solid substance that comes out of the volcano is marked as lava.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMagmaLava
Definition When molten rock stays under the surface of the earth, it is called magma.When molten rock or magma erupts and comes out of the surface of the earth, it is called lava.
ContentMagma consists of rocks that turn to liquid due to heat.Lava consists of molten rocks and different gases.
TemperatureMagma’s temperature varies from 1300 F to 2400 F. The temperature of lava varies from 1300 F to 2200 degrees F.
Cooled formIf magma cools down under the surface of the earth, it becomes plutonic rock.After the eruption, when lava cools down, it becomes volcanic rocks.
EtymologyMagma got its root from the Greek language.Lava got its root from the Italian language.

What is Magma?

The extreme heat that persists in the earth’s core can liquidise the solid substance. This semi-solid blend of different minerals and gases, such as carbon dioxide, and sulfur, prevails underground. The primary idea of magma is the extremely hot melted mixture that stays underneath the earth’s surface.

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If you are wondering how the underground magma comes out of a volcano, then here is the answer, magma finds cracks and gaps that lead it towards the volcano. As we know, the Earth is situated on different plates. These plates are accommodated properly, but at times they clash with one another, which causes friction. While clashing, if these plates come under or over the other, then the magma gets its way to come up. This created pressure gets released by volcanos. Volcanoes work exactly like the safety valves of a pressure cooker. Volcanoes release the extra pressure and temperature that gets built up under the earth.


What is Lava?

Lava is nothing new but a term for magma that comes out from the exterior of the earth. Magma stays inside the earth and sometimes comes out of the volcanoes. The mixture of molten rock that comes out of volcanoes gets declared as lava. Lava can be called a semi-solid substance that is boiling hot and capable of causing a catastrophe. As it is neither liquid nor solid and the thickness depends on the substance, lava is classified into three types based on its viscosity.

As stated before, lava is a very hot substance. Its temperature can vary from 1300 to 2200 Fahrenheit. It cools down, and it evolves into other forms once it becomes cold. At times it becomes crystal, and it is also capable of becoming volcanic rocks.


Main Differences Between Magma and Lava

  1. Magma lies under the crust of the earth, but magma becomes lava when it comes out of the earth’s crust due to eruption.
  2. Magma is a Greek word. It comes from an ancient word that used to signify ‘thick unguent’, whereas lava got its origin in Italy.
  3. Magma takes much more time to cool down than lava. Lava takes much less time to cool down due to its gases.
  4. When magma cools down, it becomes plutonic rock, for instance, granite, but lava can not make plutonic rock after cooling down. It takes the form of volcanic rocks, like basalt.
  5. Magma can turn itself into huge crystals, and lava, on the other hand, can get crystalized to become glass.
  6. The temperature of magma is hotter than lava, although the difference is not huge, yet it makes a difference.
  7. One can find dissolved gases in magma, but they are not present in lava.
Difference Between Magma and Lava
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Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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10 thoughts on “Magma vs Lava: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The temperature difference between magma and lava might seem small, but it plays an important role in their formation and behavior.

  2. The difference in viscosity between magma and lava is crucial to understand their behavior during and after a volcanic eruption.


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