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These long time periods are computed by measuring the ratio of daughter to parent substance in a rock and inferring an age based on this ratio.
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.
Lava erupting earlier would come from the top of the magma chamber, and lava erupting later would come from lower down.
55-57, (1987), gives us an idea of the tremendous complexity of the processes that occur when magma solidifies.
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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.