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What are quiet eruptions?

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Quick Answer

Quiet eruptions are volcanic eruptions that explode gently, with broad sheets of slowly flowing lava. Shield volcanoes, such as those in Hawaii, are commonly associated with quiet eruptions.

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In contrast to quiet eruptions, other volcanoes erupt explosively. Mount St. Helens, for instance, spewed lava high in the air when it erupted. Two things control the type of eruption: how much water vapor and other gasses are in the magma and whether the magma is basaltic or granitic. Basaltic magma tends to ooze out gently in a thin, quiet eruption, while granitic magma is thicker and becomes trapped inside the volcano's vents. Once the pressure grows enough to force out the magma, it explodes.

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