Sat. Nov 27th, 2021


A 3-foot-wide lava bomb explodes on the slopes of the Cumber Vieza volcano in La Palma, Spain.
GIF: Harry Geiger / Gizmodo

Boulders rolling down the hill at high speeds are a scary sight — and even more terrifying when they are still burning in the heat of the volcano.

Harry Geiger, a geochemist at the University of Albert-Ludwigs in Germany, is currently investigating Ongoing eruption In the Cambre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma in Spain. The volcano began erupting on September 19 and it does not seem keen to stop soon. Geiger is part of an international research team comprised of the Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. He and his colleagues were sampling recent ash in the volcanic eruption zone when the boulder took dramatic shape.

On October 27, while standing about 0.6 miles (1 km) from the vent of the Giger volcano, he recorded an extraordinary video of a splash lava bomb speeding down the slope. In an email, Geiger said he estimated the lava bomb was about 3 feet wide (1 meter) and weighed about half a ton.

Scientists approached the boulder when it stopped rolling and they could feel the heat from it. Geiger said it was “still glowing” and glowing at temperatures above 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit (900 degrees Celsius). Definitely a no-touch situation.

That's a hot boulder.

That’s a hot boulder.
Pictures: Harry Geiger

Splash lava bombs, you can guess, emitted rocks produced by volcanic eruptions, and they are quite dangerous. In 2018, a basketball-sized lava bomb Crushed On a tour boat off the coast of Hawaii, about two dozen people were injured and four were hospitalized.

Fortunately, no one was injured by this particular lava bomb in La Palma, but I asked Geiger if he was worried about his safety. “No, we were at a safe distance, and we’ve seen other lava bombs before – we’re always on the lookout,” he replied. Naturally, Geiger saw it as a learning experience. “Seeing a‘ live ’bomb is a rare occasion, we learn about emission speeds, trajectories, travel distances and the general structure of splash lava bombs,” he added.

Some parts of the ejected boulder were red-hot even after rolling down the slope.

Some parts of the ejected boulder were red-hot even after rolling down the slope.
Pictures: Harry Geiger

Dave Petley, a geologist at the University of Sheffield, writes in the Landslide blog Says The phenomenon demonstrates the striking dynamics of the rolling stone. “As the video shows, it was a boulder that was fairly round, and it was running on a surface that was basically unobstructed, and it was a steady slope, until the end of the sequence,” Petley writes. “The resulting video is a remarkable record of extreme mobility in this situation.”

Surely — if someone was unlucky enough to cross the path while rolling this lava bomb, it would have become a screen. Fortunately, Geiger and his colleagues have avoided such a fate.

Related: About two dozen people have been injured in a lava bombing on a Hawaii tour boat.



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