It's difficult for geologists to witness the flow of lava on snow- and ice-covered volcanos, so researchers with the Syracuse University Lava Project decided to create their own simulation, melting 300 kg of lava and pouring it over ice to watch the effects.

Sculptor Bob Wysocki and geologist Jeff Karson collaborate on the Lava Project, melting basaltic lava to produce natural-scale lava flows in a variety of conditions. Because the remoteness of snow- and ice-covered volcano peaks make those peaks difficult to observe, observations like those from the Lava Project have been valuable in gaining insight into the interactions between lava and snow. Wysocki and Karson are two of the co-authors on a paper about these interactions, which appears in a recent issue of Geology. One of their findings, which you can see in the video, focuses on the formation of lava bubbles by steam from vaporization of the underlying ice.

You can also see more of the Syracuse University Lava Project's lava pours on Vimeo.

[via Smithsonian via Neatorama]