VHP Photo Glossary: Laplli

Close view of lapilli tephra erupted from Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i

These lapilli were erupted from the Kilauea Iki Crater in 1959 and landed about 800 m downwind.


Rock fragments between 2 and 64 mm (0.08-2.5 in) in diameter that were ejected from a volcano during an explosive eruption are called lapilli. Lapilli (singular: lapillus) means "little stones" in Italian. Lapilli may consist of many different types of tephra, including scoria, pumice, and reticulite.

Rounded tephra particles in this size range are called accretionary lapilli if they consist of tiny ash grains stuck together. Ash sometimes form such rounded particles in an eruption column or cloud, owing to moisture or electrostatic forces.