Eruption in a Box

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In layers of viscous fluids, lighter and less viscous fluids can displace heavier, more viscous liquids. Here, researchers demonstrate this using four fluids sandwiched between layers of glass and mounted in a rotating frame. (Think of those liquid-air-sand art frames found in museums but bigger!)

In their first example, each layer of fluid is denser than the one beneath it, so buoyancy forces the lowest layer — air — to rise. The air pushes its way through the more viscous layer of olive oil, then slowly makes its way through the even more viscous glycerin before bursting through the last layer in an eruption. As the team varies the viscosity and miscibility of the layers, the movement of the buoyant fluids through the viscous layers changes dramatically. (Image and video credit: A. Albrahim et. al.)

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