Flexi Says: All volcanoes share the same basic features. First, mantle rock melts. The molten rock collects in magma chambers that can be 160 kilometers (100 miles) beneath the surface. As the rock heats, it expands. The hot rock is less dense than the surrounding rock. The magma rises toward the surface through cracks in the crust. A volcanic eruption occurs when the magma reaches the surface. Lava can reach the surface gently or explosively.