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Pillow lava on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Pillow lava on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

E310/0026

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Credit

B. MURTON / SOUTHAMPTON OCEANOGRAPHY CENTRE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY B. MURTON / SOUTHAMPTON OCEANOGRAPHY CENTRE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Pillow lava on the flanks of a submarine volcano on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Pillow lava is a formation formed when molten rock (magma) oozes out from underwater vents. When it contacts the cold water it rapidly solidifies, forming a hard crust. The inside of the rock remains molten for longer than the outside, and the flow of molten rock into the hard crust "inflates" the crust, forming these rounded pillows. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a massive mountain range under the central Atlantic Ocean, which separates the North and South American tectonic plates from the Eurasian and African ones. The ridge is still growing, pushing the plates several centimetres further apart each year.

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