Surtseyan eruption

Surtsey was the most famous example of a Surtseyan eruption.
Surtseyan eruption: 1 water vapor cloud, 2 cypressoid ash jet, 3 crater, 4 water, 5 layers of lava and ash, 6 stratum, 7 magma conduit, 8 magma chamber, 9 dike

A Surtseyan eruption is a type of volcanic eruption that takes place in shallow seas or lakes. It is named after the island of Surtsey off the southern coast of Iceland.[1]

These eruptions are commonly phreatomagmatic eruptions, representing violent explosions caused by rising basaltic or andesitic magma coming into contact with abundant, shallow groundwater or surface water. Tuff rings, pyroclastic cones of primarily ash, are built by explosive disruption of rapidly cooled magma.


Although similar in nature to phreatomagmatic eruptions, there are several specific characteristics:[2]

  • Physical nature of magma: viscous; basaltic.
  • Character of explosive activity: violent ejection of solid, warm fragments of new magma; continuous or rhythmic explosions; base surges.
  • Nature of effusive activity: short, locally pillowed, lava flows; lavas may be rare.
  • Nature of dominant ejecta: lithic, blocks and ash; often accretionary lapilli; spatter, fusiform bombs and lapilli absent.
  • Structures built around vent: tuff rings

Examples of Surtseyan eruptions


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