Volcanic eruptions are usually accompanied bythe so-called pyroclastic flows - hot clouds, consisting of volcanic gases, ash and hard rocks. These particles move at a speed of several hundred kilometers per hour, and they seem to defy the laws of physics - solid fragments clearly must cause friction and slow down. It is believed that these flows caused the death of people in Pompeii during the eruption of Vesuvius, and scientists still have no idea how to avoid such disasters in the future. However, they managed to figure out the reason for the high speed of hot clouds, and this discovery could save thousands of lives.
Unfortunately, to study the movement of hot particlessimple observations are impossible, because the temperature of the clouds can reach 1000 degrees Celsius. Researchers from Massey University in New Zealand decided to follow this up during a laboratory experiment. They took the particles of the eruptive volcano Taupo, warmed them to 130 degrees Celsius and in large volumes were allowed along the 13-meter chute. The movement was filmed on a camera with a slowdown function.
Based on their observations, researchersfound that the huge particles move at great speed due to the formation of an air layer beneath them, eliminating friction. This layer occurs when reaching a speed of two to six meters per second - it depends on the height of the stream. The air raised from the base also penetrates the flow, further pushing the heavy particles. We can say that they practically fly in the air, destroying everything in their path.
Researchers are confident that the new discoverywill allow them to more accurately assess the danger of future cataclysms and come up with ways to protect people. It is noteworthy that the discovery explains not only the high velocity of volcanic particles, but also landslides and avalanches.
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