What Is A Spatter Cone Volcano?

A spatter cone volcano, also known as a tephra cone, is a type of volcanic cone that forms when lava is ejected violently from a central vent. The lava is typically very viscous, with a high silica content, which causes it to solidify and fragment as it is ejected into the air. The fragments, known as spatter, fall back to the ground and accumulate around the vent, forming a cone-shaped structure.

Formation of Spatter Cone Volcanoes

Spatter cone volcanoes are typically found in areas where there is a high concentration of gas in the magma, which causes the lava to be highly explosive when it reaches the surface. As the lava is ejected from the vent, it breaks up into small globs of molten rock, known as spatter, which solidify and accumulate around the vent to form the cone. The spatter can range in size from small pebbles to large boulders, depending on the explosiveness of the eruption.

Characteristics of Spatter Cone Volcanoes

Spatter cone volcanoes are typically smaller in size compared to other types of volcanic cones, such as cinder cones or stratovolcanoes. They are often steep-sided and have a conical shape, with a crater at the summit where the vent is located. The spatter that makes up the cone is usually very rough and jagged in appearance, due to the rapid cooling and solidification of the lava fragments.

Examples of Spatter Cone Volcanoes

One of the most well-known examples of a spatter cone volcano is Paricutin in Mexico. Paricutin is a young volcano that formed in 1943 and grew rapidly over the course of several years, reaching a height of over 1,300 feet. The volcano is characterized by its steep sides and jagged spatter that covers its surface.

Another example of a spatter cone volcano is Sunset Crater in Arizona, USA. Sunset Crater formed around 1,000 years ago and is a popular tourist attraction due to its well-preserved cone shape and colorful layers of spatter.


Spatter cone volcanoes are a unique and fascinating type of volcanic cone that form as a result of highly explosive eruptions. Their steep-sided conical shape and jagged spatter make them distinct from other types of volcanic features. Studying spatter cone volcanoes can provide valuable insight into the processes that shape the Earth’s surface and help us better understand the dynamics of volcanic eruptions.

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