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The Sciences

SNAPSHOT: Scientists Make Lava, Then Blow It Up

D-briefBy Alison MackeyDecember 11, 2018 12:42 AM


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(Credit: Douglas Levere / University at Buffalo) Making lava to blow it up — that’s what scientists at the University of Buffalo have been up to. The first results of a long-term study led by Ingo Sonder, shown here stirring molten rock, were published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. The group has been cooking up lava in 10-gallon batches and injecting them with water to better understand the explosive reactions that sometimes occur when the two meet. “If you think about a volcanic eruption, there are powerful forces at work, and it’s not a gentle thing,” said Sonder in a press release. “Our experiments are looking at the basic physics of what happens when water gets trapped inside molten rock.” The team's preliminary results show the biggest reactions happen when water rushes in quickly, or when the molten rock is held in taller containers. But the team plans to conduct more experiments before drawing any firm conclusions.

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