Phenomena

When Lava Meets Ice

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What happens when lava meets ice or water? Artists and geologists are working together to explore these interactions by melting crushed basalt and pouring it onto different substrates. Ice is their classic example; instead of melting instantly through the ice, the lava is so hot that it creates a layer of steam between it and the ice. This steam helps the lava flow due to lower friction while also insulating the ice from the lava. It’s an example of the Leidenfrost effect. The end result is a very bubbly lava flow thanks to the steam trying to escape through the viscous lava. (Video credit: Science Channel; submitted by @jchawner)

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