No doubt you are aware that Iceland is currently experiencing an active volcanic eruption.   Fagradalsfjall is located near the capital of Reykjavik.

You can see live lava flow here:

What is flowing right now from that volcano is believed to be “primary magma.”  That is the direct melting of the earth’s mantle.  The mantle is that layer that lies between the crust and the inner, mostly iron core.  Not every volcano spews primary magma.  For scientists who study this stuff, also known as igneous petrologists, this is an exciting development.

Fagradalsfjall is a shield volcano with a tuya.  First, let’s explain the shield description.  This means that the volcano is wide with gently sloping sides.  Lava can travel far in this environment.  The tuya describes a steep-sloped area where lava has erupted through a glacier or ice flow.  Lots of dynamic things can happen when so much fire meets so much ice.  The tuya is the rarest form of volcano.

Mount Etna, in Sicily, is also erupting. This one began with Strombolian eruptions and ash emissions.  Strombolian eruptions are relatively mild to moderate bursts of incandescent clots of lava or lava bombs.  Mount Etna is also a composite volcano (sometimes called a stratovolcano) which means it has steep sides and a conical shape comprised of layers of ash and lava.

Kīlauea is another shield volcano.  It is the youngest and most active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii.  It has been erupting almost non-stop since 1983.  

Popocatepetl, in central Mexico, is a composite volcano. Where Kilauea is young, this one has been around since the Pleistocene era.  That was at least 11,700 years ago.  The Aztecs gave the volcano its name which means the “smoking mountain.”  By the way, more than 20 million people live close enough to this volcano to be impacted by a major eruption.    

Today, there are 28 volcanoes in active eruption and more than 50 additional sites registering seismic unrest or minor activity.  The earth is constantly in renewal. 

For more information, check out these sources:

What erupting today —

More about tuyas —

Facts and photos —

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