How Hot Is Magma? Must-Know Volcano Facts For Curious Kids!

Abhijeet Modi
Oct 24, 2023 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on Nov 12, 2021
Red Molten Lava magma flowing

Magma is essentially melted rock under the surface of the Earth which is of various types, such as felsic magma and mafic magma.

When this liquid magma erupts from the ground of a volcano, it is called lava. Lava cools at a much faster rate as compared to magma.

Even though volcanoes are made from magma reaching up the surface of Earth, different categories of volcanoes are present in nature. Shield volcanoes are those volcanoes that have lava flows at a low viscosity.

Another type of volcano is stratovolcanoes that are rich in several types of lavas, and you can see an eruption of rocks or ash to a really great height.

Cinder volcanoes have a much shorter eruption as compared to other types of volcanoes and only make it up to the height of 1,312.3 ft (400 m).

Keep in mind all magma and lava have extremely hot temperatures. Going anywhere near magma or lava will kill you in a matter of seconds due to their hot nature and the different forms of toxic gases released while these volcanoes are erupting.

Magma comprises partially or completely molten rock that is responsible for the formation of the igneous rocks that makes up the surface of the Earth.

After reading about the interesting phenomena going on beneath the surface of the earth, you will also like to read about how do we see color and how do telescopes work.

What is magma? And how hot is magma in degrees?

Magma is basically a mixture of molten rock found under the surface of the earth which is formed of different rocks. This molten rock mixture is usually made out of four parts and has extremely hot temperatures of over 1,292 F (700 C).

The molten rock which rises through volcanic chambers is called lava, and before the eruption, it is known as magma. The four parts of magma are a hot liquid base which is called a melt, minerals which are crystallized by the molten rock’s melt, solid rocks added into the melt, and dissolved gases such as carbon dioxide.

Sometimes, the magma might become solid by cooling down slowly below the Earth's surface.

This gives birth to plutonic rocks such as ‘granite’.

Magma’s material is produced by the melting of the Earth’s crust. Magma liquid proceeds to rise towards the surface of the Earth when it becomes less dense than the rocks it is being surrounded by and also when the structural zones allow for its movement.

Magma proceeds to develop in magma chambers. Magma can either remain in this chamber until it cools down and crystallizes to form more indigenous rocks or proceed to move to another magma chamber.

It seems to happen around all tectonic settings, such as zones of continental rift and mid-ocean ridges. Magma is a highly complex fluid substance with incredible temperatures.

When magma proceeds to temperatures of cooling down, It starts forming solid minerals. Some of this solid mineral decides to settle at the bottom of the magma chambers, and magma which cools down inside the magma chamber can form solid rocks, gabbro, diorite, and granite; all of this depends on the temperatures and composition of the magma.

Most magma has an average temperature that ranges between 1,292-2,372 F (700-1,300 C). Lava is even hotter than that!

There are three different types of lavas that flow, basaltic magma, andesitic magma, and rhyolitic magma. All of these different types have different compositions of minerals within them.

The basaltic magma has a high amount of iron and calcium content in it, but it does not have high contents of potassium and sodium; they are low. Basaltic magma ranges in temperatures at around 1,832-2,192 F (1,000-1,200 C).

Andesitic magma has a decent content of all the minerals, and its temperatures can range anywhere between about 1,472-1,832 F (800-1,000 C).

Rhyolitic magma has a high content of sodium and potassium but lacks all the other major minerals found in other types of lavas. Volcanoes with more viscous lava have a frequent eruption case as the gases inside the lava chambers or vents are trapped at a much higher pressure.

When these gases do finally manage to escape, the kind of pressures and energies they possess within themselves blow the magma above the crust of the Earth.

Magmas that have a high content of silica tend to erupt more violently as they are more vicious.

Rocks that build up the Earth’s mantle are mostly these silicates and a wide variety of compounds that form a structure based on oxygen and silicate. Besides molten rock, magma may also contain suspended mineral crystals and gas bubbles.

How hot is magma inside the Earth's surface?

Whenever magma is ejected by a volcano or magma vent, the material that erupts is called lava. Magma that cools down into solid rock is called igneous rock.

Magma molten under the Earth’s crust is at temperatures that are capable of melting anything on this planet.

The temperature ranges between 1,292-2,372 F (700-1,300 C). This heat ends up making magma a very fluid and dynamic material, which is in the condition of creating new lands and capable of physical and chemical transformations of any environment on Earth’s crust.

However, the temperatures of the lava are completely different.

When lava flow first breaks through the Earth’s crust, it has a temperature between 1,292-2,372 F (700-1,300 C). The color of the lava flow is determined by the temperature of the lava; fresh lava with higher temperatures is generally orange or red in color.

Both lava and magma are molten rocks, but there is one key difference, the molten rock which has been made through magma chambers or vents is called lava, whereas magma is the molten rock that is stored inside the crust of the Earth at temperatures higher than that of the magma flow.

The magma inside Hawaiian volcanoes tends to have high temperatures as well. Kilauea and Mauna Loa are both active volcanoes, while Mauna Loa’s last recorded eruption was in 1984; Kilauea's eruptions were in September 2021.

The temperature at which Kilauea erupts is about 2,138 F (1,170 C); the temperature of magma inside the magma chambers or tubes is about 2,282 F (1,250 C).

The mantle plume has been present under the crust of the Earth in the region of Yellowstone, North America, and is 2,642 F (1,450 C). It may look like a beautiful place to be, but you do not want to be anywhere near when it decides to erupt.

Volcanoes with viscous magmas erupt more explosively as they have high crystal content and trap gases under high pressure which on escape causes explosive eruptions.

Is magma hotter than fire?

You might think that molten magma actually has a high temperature and is hotter overall when compared to fire, but that’s not always the case.

The maximum temperature magma can reach is 2,372 F (1,300 C); however, few flames can reach up to the temperatures of 3,599.6 F (1,982 C) or more. A simple candle’s fire flame can have a temperature that is as low as 1,799.6 F (982 C).

Magma and lava are generally hotter than your average wood or coal fire, but flames of acetylene are much hotter even when compared to magma or lava.

When the material of magma is at its lowest point in the temperature range, it is hotter than fire at its coolest range of temperatures. Fire at its peak temperature is hotter than magma’s peak temperature.

How hot is being near magma?

Being near hot magma is no joke; being near magma erupting volcanoes requires a lot of precautions. The temperatures of magma and lava are really high and can burn anything in their path in a matter of seconds.

It’s very important to maintain your safety when living near active volcanoes or going to see them. Volcanic projectiles are hot rocks flung from magma vents, and if they are larger than 2.5 in (6.3 cm), they are called magma bombs or lava bombs.

These bombs can blaze up to several miles or kilometers, and because of their sizzling hot temperatures, even the smallest of these bombs can be dangerous for anyone; they can break bones and melt the skin of humans. Active volcanoes have the tendency to release toxic gases such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and hydrogen chloride.

If these gases are taken in by a human, they can prove to be deadly and might result in the death of the person inhaling them.

In 1986, the carbon dioxide released from Africa’s volcanic lake, Lake Nyos, ended up suffocating hundreds of people and cattle in the village to their death. Volcanic ash is another thing to be careful of as these can be dangerous as well.

Volcanic ash is mainly built of tiny fragments of rocks.

These can prove to be really harmful to the lungs and can form a blanket over the skies of nearby towns. Sometimes, they might even end up collapsing roofs of structures.

This volcanic ash can shoot up miles in the sky and then proceed to rain down in the surrounding areas, which proves to be a danger for even those people who are living away from active volcanoes.

If you happen to live near these magma erupting giants, it is very important to track local monitoring agencies to keep yourself updated on the possible lava eruptions, and you need to have the knowledge of exclusion zones that are safe from the aftereffects of the volcanic eruption.

It is crucial to have knowledge of all evacuation routes which are specific to your area.

Even when going to visit active volcanoes on your holidays, you have to make sure that you are traveling with all the necessary things such as appropriate footwear, food, respiratory protection, first aid supplies, and plenty of water.

It is important to not go too close to lava flow or the volcano itself as you never know what might happen.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions forhow hot is magma, then why not take a look at burro vs donkey, or blue whale diet.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

Abhijeet Modi picture

Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

Read full bio >