Archive for December 22nd, 2014

There isn’t a lot of snow in the Alps at the moment. For skiers and mountaineers alike, it is a good thing there are no active volcanoes in the region – unlike on Kamchatka, where vulcanologists made a short movies of lava flows interacting with snow: “Watching lava fight with snow in Kamchatka“. Impressive, don’t you think?

I find it remarkable that snow does not melt instantly when the lava approaches: I always thought that 900 (and more!) degrees Celcius would be sufficient to melt snow even before coming into contact with so hot a material. This movie proves me wrong ;-)

Pahoehoe lava on snow. Picture by Benjamin R. Edwards

Pahoehoe lava on snow, by Benjamin R. Edwards.
(Click the picture to see the movie on Youtube)

What’s more: perhaps this study will even be useful in space.

…the pahoehoe flows wound up with a unique texture where they interacted with the snow, the researchers say. That’s pretty neat, because it could allow geologists to recognize old lavas that flowed over snow. If that volcano is not snow-covered today, you’ve learned something about past climate. The researchers point out it’s even possible we could recognize this texture in lava flows on Mars, where it’s thought that lavas may have flowed over ice in the past.


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