volcanic

extrusive rock

Any igneous rock derived from magma that is poured out or ejected at the Earth's surface. Extrusive rocks are usually distinguished from intrusive rocks on the basis of their texture and mineral composition. Lava flows and pyroclastic debris (fragmented volcanic material) are extrusive; they are commonly glassy (e.g., obsidian) or finely crystalline (e.g., basalts and felsites).

Learn more about extrusive rock with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Any glassy rock formed from lava or magma that has a chemical composition close to that of granite. Such molten material may reach very low temperatures without crystallizing, but its viscosity may become very high. Because high viscosity inhibits crystallization, the combination of sudden cooling and loss of volatiles, as when lava extrudes from a volcanic vent, tends to chill the material to a glass rather than crystallize it.

Learn more about volcanic glass with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Bomb with a guidance system that directs its path toward a target. It is steered by fins or wings on the bomb that move in response to guidance commands. Guidance systems may be electro-optical, laser, infrared, or inertial. Electro-optical systems send pictures of the area so that the bomb can be guided onto the target. Laser-guided bombs follow the reflections of a laser beam trained onto the target by an aircraft or a spotter on the ground. Infrared guidance responds to radiation generated by warm areas of the target. Inertial navigation is based on inputting coordinates derived from radar systems or from Global Positioning System satellites into the bomb's gyroscopes. Smart bombs, initially used in the Vietnam War, offer far greater accuracy than traditional gravity, or “dumb,” bombs.

Learn more about smart bomb with a free trial on Britannica.com.

or enhanced radiation warhead

Small thermonuclear weapon that produces minimal blast and heat but releases large amounts of lethal radiation. The blast and heat are confined to a radius of only a few hundred yards; within a somewhat larger area, the bomb throws off a massive wave of neutron and gamma radiation, which is extremely destructive to living tissue. Such a bomb could be used with deadly efficiency against tank and infantry formations on the battlefield without endangering towns or cities only a few miles away. It can be carried in a missile or delivered by a howitzer or even an attack aircraft.

Learn more about neutron bomb with a free trial on Britannica.com.

or H-bomb or thermonuclear bomb

Weapon whose enormous explosive power is generated by the nuclear fusion of hydrogen isotopes. The high temperatures required for the fusion reaction are produced by detonating an atomic bomb (which draws its energy from nuclear fission). The bomb's explosion produces a blast that can destroy structures within a radius of several miles, an intense white light that can cause blindness, and heat fierce enough to set off firestorms. It also creates radioactive fallout that can poison living creatures and contaminate air, water, and soil. Hydrogen bombs, which may be thousands of times more powerful than atomic bombs, can be made small enough to fit in the warhead of a ballistic missile (see ICBM) or even in an artillery shell (see neutron bomb). Edward Teller and other U.S. scientists developed the first H-bomb and tested it at Enewetak atoll (Nov. 1, 1952). The Soviet Union first tested an H-bomb in 1953, followed by Britain (1957), China (1967), and France (1968). Most modern nuclear weapons employ both fusion and fission.

Learn more about hydrogen bomb with a free trial on Britannica.com.

In volcanology, any unconsolidated volcanic material that has a diameter greater than 1.25 in. (32 mm). Bombs form from clots of wholly or partly liquid lava ejected during a volcanic explosion; they solidify and become rounded during flight. The final shape is determined by the initial size, viscosity, and flight velocity of the magma.

Learn more about bomb with a free trial on Britannica.com.

First atomic bomb test, near Alamogordo, New Mexico, July 16, 1945.

Weapon whose great explosive power results from the sudden release of energy upon the splitting, or fission, of the nuclei of heavy elements such as plutonium or uranium (see nuclear fission). With only 11–33 lb (5–15 kg) of highly enriched uranium, a modern atomic bomb could generate a 15-kiloton explosion, creating a huge fireball, a large shock wave, and lethal radioactive fallout. The first atomic bomb, developed by the Manhattan Project during World War II, was set off on July 16, 1945, in the New Mexico desert. The only atomic bombs used in war were dropped by the U.S. on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and on Nagasaki three days later. In 1949 the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb, followed by Britain (1952), France (1960), China (1964), India (1974), and Pakistan (1998). Israel and South Africa were suspected of testing atomic weapons in 1979. Seealso hydrogen bomb; Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty; nuclear weapon.

Learn more about atomic bomb with a free trial on Britannica.com.

or vulcanism

Any of various processes and phenomena associated with the surface discharge of molten rock or hot water and steam, including volcanoes, geysers, and fumaroles. Most active volcanoes occur where two plates converge and one overrides the other (see plate tectonics). Volcanism can also occur along the axis of an oceanic ridge, where the plates move apart and magma wells up from the mantle. A few volcanoes occur within plates, far from margins. Some of these are thought to occur as a plate moves over a “hot spot” from which magma can penetrate to the surface; others appear to result from an extremely slow form of plate spreading.

Learn more about volcanism with a free trial on Britannica.com.

See Volcano
Search another word or see volcanicon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature