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Such a large variety of igneous rocks exists that it is logical to assume an equally large variety of magmas must also exist.However, geologists have found that various eruptive stages of the same volcano often extrude lavas exhibiting somewhat different mineral compositions, particularly if an extensive period of time separated the eruptions.

This age is computed under the assumption that the parent substance (say, uranium) gradually decays to the daughter substance (say, lead), so the higher the ratio of lead to uranium, the older the rock must be.The general idea is that many different minerals are formed, which differ from one another in composition, even though they come from the same magma.The mineral makeup of an igneous rock is ultimately determined by the chemical composition of the magma from which it crystallized.Lava erupting earlier would come from the top of the magma chamber, and lava erupting later would come from lower down.A number of processes could cause the parent substance to be depleted at the top of the magma chamber, or the daughter product to be enriched, both of which would cause the lava erupting earlier to appear very old according to radiometric dating, and lava erupting later to appear younger.

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