We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Magma?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Jun 04, 2024
Our promise to you
All Things Nature is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All Things Nature, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

When you’re standing on solid earth, it’s hard to think of the planet as anything but very solid rock. Yet this is not the case. Several kilometers below earth’s crust, hard rock is replaced by softer rock, and then ultimately by liquid rock with gases and minerals, that occasionally erupt from volcanoes or cracks in the earth.

You certainly wouldn’t want to be near this molten rock, since it is extremely high in temperature. Though a few materials melt at temperatures of about 1100 degrees F (593.33 C), most magma under the earth’s crust maintains temperatures between 1292 and 2372 degrees F (700-1300 C). When molten rock erupts or flows onto the earth’s surface, it quickly loses heat energy, though it’s still far hotter than exposure would warrant.

Some scientists make the distinction between magma and lava, defining lava as molten rock that is on or above the earth’s surface. This can also be called extrusive. Another way you will see the vestiges of molten rock above the earth, aside from in lava flows, is when you examine igneous rock. All igneous rock is formed from magma, and some rocks resemble the once liquid flow that produced them. Obsidian, for instance, is shiny and brittle, and somewhat resembles the flow of certain types of magma. It’s actually a naturally occurring glass that gets its shine and smoothness from the fact that the magma didn’t crystallize as it cooled.

Another interesting igneous rock created by once melted rock is pumice, which is very light, so light that it will float in most fluids. Unlike the smooth shine of obsidian, pumice resembles natural sponges, with a number of pockmarks. These are caused when gases create bubbles in the rock, which doesn’t have time to reform before it cools. This results in the bubbled appearance of pumice and its low density.

What creates magma? Temperature, and pressure increase as you delve farther into the earth’s layers. It’s comparable to the way things are heated when you place them in a microwave oven. The hottest part is always the center and interior.

Under certain conditions, where heat becomes extreme, part of the rock forming beneath the crust begins to melt. As heated rock rises, it begins to cool again, creating some of the igneous rocks that make up portions of the earth’s crust. When magma comes to the surface, especially underneath an ocean, where it may be much closer to the crust, it pushes slowly cooled rock upwards, creating volcanic mountains, a potential source for the extrusion of lava.

Earth is not the only planet on which magma exists. Recent research on Mars in comparison with volcanoes in Hawaii suggests a molten rock flow beneath the crust. Studies in 2007 posit that volcanoes on Mars that were once thought extinct, may only be dormant.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a All Things Nature contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon255154 — On Mar 15, 2012

Molten rock is magma, right?

By anon165199 — On Apr 04, 2011

After millions or billions of years how does the magma continue to maintain it's heat. Why doesn't it burn out?

Even the sun, how does it continue to burn and relatively maintain a constant temperature without burning out? God in control or what?

By Georgesplane — On Jun 05, 2010

@parmnparsley - You're on the right track. Metamorphic rocks can originate from igneous rocks (as well as sedimentary rocks). Metamorphic rocks are the result of immense heat and pressure applied to rocks as they are forced under, over, and into one another. Igneous rocks are often created in areas of volcanic activity because these are the areas where the earth’s tectonic plates shear, subduct, and converge. I guess that you could almost conclude that you cannot have metamorphic rocks without magma, and you cannot have magma without the melting of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rock.

By parmnparsley — On Jun 05, 2010

Aren't metamorphic rocks formed by cooling magma as well? I thought that metamorphic rocks were formed underground from super heated, melted rock. Why aren't metamorphic rocks considered igneous rocks formed from magma? I know that metamorphic rocks look similar to igneous rocks like granite. Can anybody tell me if they are formed from magma?

By Alchemy — On Jun 05, 2010

I would like to point out that a distinction between lava and magma must be made before we can fully describe igneous rocks. Magma only produces plutonic igneous rocks. Magma is considered lava once it reaches the surface. This distinction is important because the properties of igneous rocks are greatly influenced by crystallization as well as mineral and gas content. Obsidian, basalt, pumice, rhyolite, and andesite are all extrusive igneous rocks that are formed when lava cools on the earth’s surface. They are identifiable because of their small grain size and lack of crystallization. Magma forms igneous rocks like granite, diorite, and gabbros which are easily identifiable by their large crystalline structure. These plutonic rocks are formed by the slow cooling of magma within the earth's crust.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a All Things Nature contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.