Education

VIDEO: This is what happens when you pour lava on to ice

What happens when you pour lava directly on to a sheet of ice? Not what you’d expect.

Lava, as we all know from 90s disaster movies, is really hot. In its molten state, it’s anywhere from 700 – 1,200C. So you’d expect it to burn straight down though ice in a straight line with no resistance.

Nope. It bubbles like a saucepan of water and hardens that way, in a pretty spectacular spectacle.

The fascinating thing here is that the lava should plummet straight through the ice, but ice turns straight into steam – and steam expands and needs to escape.

That’s why the lava begins to bubble – steam trapped under the surface desperately needs to go somewhere.

And, as nuclear chemist Alistair Linsell explains in the clip, the steam is actually what the lava is sitting on – not the ice. So it crawls forward on top of the steam to find a way out.
Source: Outrageous Acts of Science from the Science Channel.

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