A volcano’s glass lava is still flowing — even though the volcano stopped erupting almost a year ago.
The slow-moving lava is working its way down Chile’s Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano, which erupted in April 2012.
The rhyolite lava shot out of Puyehue-Cordon Caulle in June 2011. The last dribbles worked their way out in April 2012. The rhyolite was thick, dry, and viscous.
Because of this, the lava was unable to form sizable crystals. Volcanologist Hugh Tuffen told NASA’s Earth Observatory:
“The sound of advancing obsidian lava is quite fascinating and unlike anything I have ever heard — a succession of platey fracturing sounds, as if a bowl of Rice Krispies were made up of thousands of fragile plates that each broke, rather than the usual snap, crackle and pop.”
NBC News notes that glass lava flows can be found around the world, with the United States boasting them in Oregon and California. Tuffen, a researcher at Lancaster University, has been studying the rhyolite lava flows at Puyehue-Cordon Caulle for clues on how eruptions happen. He explained:
“One of the unsolved mysteries of rhyolites is how the gas escapes from this very thick magma.”
Because the lava is unable to form sizable crystals, it is solidified but disordered silica, much like window glass. Puyehue-Cordon Caulle is in Puyuhue National Park in the Andes of Chile’s Ranco Province, just west of the country’s border with Argentina. There is no estimate as to when the glass lava will stop flowing.
[Image via ShutterStock]