As lava courses through Hawaii’s Big Island towards a shopping centre, residents are making plans to keep well out of its way. But what happens if you are faced with the prospect of walking on lava? On a holiday to Kilauea in Hawaii, neuroscientist Alex Rivest decided to find out, when his tour guide offered to tread into a pool of scorching molten rock.
Lava is around 700 to 1,200 °C (1,292 to 2,192 °F) when it emerges from a volcano and then makes its way to the path of least resistance. The tour guide’s boot is shown to make a small impression, sparking a flame which bounced off the surface.
While this may not be surprising (it is liquid rock), I think that many people think of lava as more of a hot-watery-like substance,’ said Mr Rivest who is originally from Massachusetts. ‘You would never fall into a lava lake the way you would a swimming pool, the molten rock is much more dense, so you would simply land on it, sink a little, and be burned.