Inside A Magma Chamber

Falling off the monkey bars as a kid might have meant you were plunging into imaginary lava. As is turns out, liquid hot magma would be much less forgiving than a scraped knee from pea gravel. Magma, the semi-liquid mixture of rock and gasses which allow the Earth's tectonic plates to float in place, is situated at the core of the Earth as well as deep within volcanoes. Formed by immense pressure and heat while lodged between plates of the Earth's mantle, the magma becomes heated to between 1,292 to 2,372 degrees Fahrenheit and is considered lava once erupted from the Earth's surface by way of volcano or rupture. As magma is compressed thousands of miles underground, it can form into pocketed pools under consistently high temperatures and in a pressurized environment, creating magma chambers. These are the same set-ups found inside volcanoes—where the heat and encapsulation of volcanic walls serve as a pressure cooker.

With so much concentrated heat, would it be possible to harness energy from magma in the same way we do sun, wind and water? What causes magma to erupt into lava—and how long does the surrounding environment have to survive? Check out this playlist to take a journey deep inside the Earth's mantle, as well as the common volcano, to get to the heart of it all: magma.

Written by Curiosity Staff August 27, 2014

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