Diagram of a Strombolian eruption. (key: 1. Ash plume 2. Lapilli 3. Volcanic ash rain 4. Lava fountain 5. Volcanic bomb 6. Lava flow 7. Layers of lava and ash 8. Stratum 9. Dike 10. Magma conduit 11. Magma chamber 12. Sill)
Strombolian eruptions are a type of volcanic eruption, named after the volcano Stromboli, which has been erupting continuously for centuries. Strombolian eruptions are driven by the bursting of gas bubbles within the magma. These gas bubbles within the magma accumulate and coalesce into large bubbles, called gas slugs. These grow large enough to rise through the lava column. Upon reaching the surface, the difference in air pressure causes the bubble to burst with a loud pop,throwing magma in the air in a way similar to a soap bubble. Because of the high gas pressures associated with the lavas, continued activity is generally in the form of episodic explosive eruptions accompanied by the distinctive loud blasts. During eruptions, these blasts occur as often as every few minutes.
The term "Strombolian" has been used indiscriminately to describe a wide variety of volcanic eruptions, varying from small volcanic blasts to large eruptive columns. In reality, true Strombolian eruptions are characterized by short-lived and explosive eruptions of lavas with intermediate viscosity, often ejected high into the air. Columns can measure hundreds of meters in height. The lavas formed by Strombolian eruptions are a form of relatively viscous basaltic lava, and its end product is mostly scoria.The relative passivity of Strombolian eruptions, and its non-damaging nature to its source vent allow Strombolian eruptions to continue unabated for thousands of years, and also makes it one of the least dangerous eruptive types. Strombolian eruptions eject volcanic bombs and lapilli fragments that travel in parabolic paths before landing around their source vent. The steady accumulation of small fragments builds cinder cones composed completely of basaltic pyroclasts. This form of accumulation tends to result in well-ordered rings of tephra.
Strombolian eruptions are similar to Hawaiian eruptions, but there are differences. Strombolian eruptions are noisier, produce no sustained eruptive columns, do not produce some volcanic products associated with Hawaiian volcanism (specifically Pele's tears and Pele's hair), and produce fewer molten lava flows (although the eruptive material does tend to form small rivulets).
Volcanoes known to have Strombolian activity include:
Parícutin, Mexico, which erupted from a fissure in a cornfield in 1943. Two years into its life, pyroclastic activity began to wane, and the outpouring of lava from its base became its primary mode of activity. Eruptions ceased in 1952, and the final height was 424 m (1,391 ft). This was the first time that scientists are able to observe the complete life cycle of a volcano
Mount Etna, Italy, which has displayed Strombolian activity in recent eruptions, for example in 1981, 1999, 2002-2003, and 2009.
Mount Erebus in Antarctica, the southernmost active volcano in the world, having been observed erupting since 1972. Eruptive activity at Erebus consists of frequent Strombolian activity.
Stromboli itself. The namesake of the mild explosive activity that it possesses has been active throughout historical time; essentially continuous Strombolian eruptions, occasionally accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded at Stromboli for more than a millennium.
Adapted from wikipedia.org