What is scoria?

Scoria is a dark-colored igneous rock with abundant round bubble-like cavities known as vesicles. It ranges in color from black or dark gray to deep reddish brown. Scoria usually has a composition similar to basalt, but can also have a composition similar to andesite.

Many people believe that small pieces of scoria look like the ash produced in a coal furnace. That has resulted in particles of scoria being called "cinders" and the small volcanoes that erupt scoria to be called "cinder cones".


How Does Scoria Form?

Scoria forms when magma containing abundant dissolved gas flows from a volcano or is blown out during an eruption. As the molten rock emerges from the Earth the pressure upon it is reduced and the dissolved gas starts to escape in the form of bubbles. If the molten rock solidifies before the gas has escaped the bubbles become small rounded or elongated cavities in the rock. This dark-colored igneous rock with the trapped bubbles is known as scoria.

When some volcanoes erupt, a rush of gas blows out of the vent. This gas was once dissolved in the magma below. The gas often blows out small bodies of magma that solidify as they fly through the air. This action can produce a ground cover of scoria all around the volcanic vent with the heaviest deposits on the downwind side.

Small particles of scoria that litter the landscape around the volcano are known as "lapilli" if they are between 2 millimeters and 64 millimeters in size. Larger particles are known as "blocks". Source: geology.com