Volcano eruptions typically lead to the creation of pyroclastic flows - clouds of gas, ash and solid formations moving together at a high speed. Scientists from New Zealand have recently explained this phenomenon.
This natural phenomenon is responsible for the disappearance of the ancient city of Pompeii from the face of the Earth: the eruption of Vesuvius completely destroyed it. It’s worth noting that humanity still hasn’t thought of any ways of preventing natural disasters, so volcano eruptions remain a real threat in the 21st century as well.
The speed of pyroclastic flows (often reaching several hundreds of km/h) has always raised questions. How can solid particles move at such a high speed? Scientists from Massey University in New Zealand have recently discovered an answer to this question, and their discovery might end up saving many lives.
Because tracking a real eruption is challenging, scientists have recreated a similar process in laboratory conditions. After heating volcanic formations from Taupo volcano, scientists sent them along a 130-meter chute. The entire process was recorded on video.
The researchers found out that an air cushion is created under the airflow, which eliminates friction and enables volcanic particles to maintain their speed. The air cushion is created at a speed of over 2-6 meters per second (depending on other variables). This discovery will enable scientists to predict the course of hypothetical natural disasters with more accuracy.
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