University at Buffalo sheds light on water-lava interactions

An ongoing study led by the University at Buffalo has shown that lava-water encounters can sometimes cause spontaneous explosions when there is more than a foot of molten rock above the mixing point. To explore the physics of what happens when water gets trapped inside molten rock, the experiments involve injecting water at speeds of 6-30 feet per second into insulated steel boxes of lava. Researchers are interested in learning about the conditions that cause the most violent reactions, which could help assess the risk of volcanoes that are located near ice, lakes, oceans, and underground water sources.

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