GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Volcanoes and volcano eruptions are among the most awesome of all natural phenomena on Earth.

They may be strangely beautiful as fountains of glowing-red lava rise above a vent to feed a lava flow that spreads rapidly downhill. Or they may consist of terrifying explosions that send clouds of scorching hot ash high into the atmosphere.

A volcano eruption is the expulsion of gases, rock fragment and/or molten lava from within the Earth through a vent onto the Earth’s surface or into the atmosphere. The melted rock or magma that is erupted in volcanoes does not come from the Earth’s core or even from deep within the mantle. There are also no permanent pools of melted rock found within the crust or mantle.

Instead, magma is produced from the partial melting of the upper mantle. The magma rises through a gap in the crust and is trapped in an area called a magma chamber. As more magma enters the chamber, pressure builds until the magma is pushed up through a pipelike vent and erupts onto the Earth’s surface.

The eruption can be so forceful that the magma is blasted into the air, breaking into billions of pieces. These come in all sizes, from fine dust to large rocks. At other times, magma flows onto the surface as a very hot, bright orange liquid called lava.

Speaking of lava, did you know lava is over 2,000 degrees hot? Now that’s way too hot to handle!