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The Color of Lava

An unprecedented cold snap has gripped most of the country this week. The negative twenty degree windchill outside has caused Thinking Color to start thinking warm thoughts. In fact, it is so cold we might have gone a bit overboard with our daydreams of warm places and have found ourselves examining the different colors of lava.


When most people think of the molten rock spewed from volcanic activity they think of red. However, there are several different colors of lava and the color of the substance tells scientists something about the composition of the material.

Lava straight from the interior of the earth is bright orange and usually about 1800 degrees fahrenheit. As the lava flows from a volcanic vent it cools to a brilliant red at 1400 degrees. Still cooling the lava transforms into a deep crimson at 1200 degrees, then to a mahogany brown at 900 degrees, and finally black volcanic rock.


The changes in color allow scientists to visually track the flow of lava and the construction of new land mass caused by volcanic activity.

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