Scientists Discover That Pouring Lava on Ice Looks Totally Awesome


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It's hard to observe a volcanic eruption up close, but it's even harder if that eruption is taking place in a cold, snow-covered environment. So researchers at Syracuse University created a simulation:

There are more than 200 volcanoes currently covered by ice and snow, but researchers who published a paper in Geology on Friday about the phenomenon point out that observing eruptions of snow-covered volcanoes is difficult due to the typical remoteness of the sites. They scraped together data from the few observations they had, and also did real-time experiments, melting over 300 kg of lava and pouring it over ice at Syracuse University’s Lava Project [...]

The research found that lava didn’t always just melt through the ice, and flow under the surface. When lava was poured directly onto densely packed ice, the lava was able to flow over the simulated glacier at rates of tens of centimeters a second, lubricated by a layer of steam.

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At a temperature of 1370 C, that is 170 C less than the melting point of iron. There are hotter things in most households. Lava isn't particular hot in terms of industrial scales, but there is a whole lot of it in and around volcanos, orders of magnitude more than what could fit in some industrial crucible at a smelter.
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