- Volcanology: volcanic dikePathways of rising magma inside vertical fissures.Dikes are imaginable as the veins of a volcano, the pathways of rising magma. A dike is called a -usually more or less vertical- flat, sheet-like magma body that cuts unconformingly through older rocks or sediments.
Most dikes can be described as fractures into which magma intrudes or from which they might erupt. The fracture can be caused by the intrusion of pressurized magma, or vice versa, the rise of magma can be caused by and exploit existing or tectonically forming fractures. The point where a dike reaches the surface and erupts lava can be called a vent.
The interior of a typical large volcanic edifice is crossed by hundreds of dikes. Very often, dikes occur as swarms concentrated within zones of structural weakness within a volcanic edifice. This is nicely illustrated by the dikes exposed at the caldera cliffs of NE Santorini, where the interior structure of ancient stratovolcanoes (ca. 500-300 ka) of northern Santorini (Thera) is exposed (photos below). These dikes follow a structural trend of volcanism on Santorini (read more of Santorini's geology on the Santorini pages).