Man walks on flowing lava, lives to post it to YouTube
If you think walking on water is miraculous, wait until you get a look at this.
Tue, Jun 18 2013 at 6:37 PM
Definitely don't try this at home. Or anywhere else, for that matter.
You may have to see it twice to believe it, but the above video does in fact showcase a man running over hot, flowing lava. Naturally, having survived the endeavor, the man promptly had it posted to YouTube.
The video appears entirely authentic, and according to geophysicist Erik Klemetti, a professor at Denison University who writes at Wired, walking on lava is technically possible. Though he also called the attempt "idiotic."
There's certainly no guarantee that this should have ended well. In fact, if you watch closely during the man's final push off the lava, the sole of his shoe bursts into flame-- a clear indication of just how hot the flow was. It's certainly not a place you want to have a faceplant.
According to Klemetti, the man's seemingly miraculous feat was possible because lava is actually much more viscous than most people realize. Though it appears to flow like a stream, you won't immediately sink in like you would in a stream of water. Even when lava is red hot, it offers significant resistance when researchers attempt to scoop up samples.
That said, this man probably wouldn't have made it out of the lava unscathed if it was red hot. His successful firewalk was assisted by the fact that the lava in the video is moving rather slowly and has a dark crust on top of it. Those are indications that the lava was fairly cool. According to Klemetti, it appears to be a`a lava, a cooler and more viscous form of flowing lava, as opposed to the smooth, red-orange pahoehoe lava that people usually associate with lava flows. The crust that typically adorns a`a lava would also have created a buffer between the man's feet and the hot lava underneath.
But just because walking on lava is possible doesn't mean it's well-advised. Klemetti adds that while this particular flow of lava is a cooler form, it's still very, very hot.
"It is hard to describe just how hot it is near an active lava flow, even a small one," he writes.
The man in the video is described as a "lava art craft worker," which apparently makes him familiar with working with and around lava. Still, he was tempting fate with this stunt.
The video was filmed on the slopes of Mt. Edna in Sicily, which is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. In fact, it has recently erupted in spectacular fashion.
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