Phenomena

“Catacomb of Veils”

Burning Man’s “Catacomb of Veils”, the largest sculpture burned in the 2016 event, produced a series of smoke tornadoes as it blazed. Like dust devils or fire tornadoes, these vortices are driven by hot, buoyant air rising – in this case, from the fire. As the surrounding air moves in toward the fire, any rotational motion, or vorticity, in the air is intensified due to conservation of angular momentum. That concentrates it into a vortex, which becomes visible when it picks up smoke. Simultaneously, the wind was blowing in a consistent direction, sending any new vortices generated marching downstream. You can watch even more vortices and some slow-motion footage of the burning in the full video by Mark Day.   (Image credit: M. Day, source; submitted by Larry B)

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