Trash in a volcano

I finally got the chance to catch up on some of my “where do you find this stuff?!” newsfeeds, and came across this fabulous video of an experiment that most of us would love to perform. The question answered by the experiment: what happens when you throw a box of trash into an active volcano, with molten lava surging in the crater?

Just to be sciencey, here are the stats:

The test was performed with a box of camp waste (largely food rests) in a bin bag. Estimated weight 30kg, Size 60x60x60cm. Fall height, about 80m.

(What are “food rests”? I’m assuming leftovers and unused parts? Also, 30 kilograms, wow. That’s a lot of camp waste. Now I understand why it took two people to toss it over the edge.)

The result of the test is rather spectacular.

(UPDATE: The original video has been removed from YouTube; a cached copy can be viewed here.)

I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to immediately find the nearest active volcano. What a gas! (Sorry.)

This brings up another bit of geekness regarding objects falling into lava: the fact that movies never get it right. Remember Gollum falling into Mount Doom at the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy? And how he splashed in, and floated, and finally sank in a very theatrical way until just the ring was left in view? Wrong, wrong, wrong.

What screenwriters seem to forget is that lava is molten rock. It’s thick, viscous stuff. If a lightweight human being fell onto it, that human would go splat, not splash. The effect would be similar to falling on concrete — really, really hot concrete. Instead of a picturesque sinking, there would be an ugly burning. On the other hand, given the amount of water in the human body (which would likely flash to steam), there might also be some impressive fountaining of lava, just like in this video. Why don’t we see that in the movies?

About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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11 Responses to Trash in a volcano

  1. kepler20f says:

    Holy Moly.

    Speaking of “science” in movies, I recently read a review so totally trashing “Prometheus” that it took away all my desire to go see it.

    • oregon expat says:

      Well, if you know any science at all, you either have to check your brain at the door or just embrace the idiocy, as we did. We had a good time laughing at it. But the imagination involved, and the computer graphics/artistry and sheer vision of the movie, are well worth the ticket price.

      • kepler20f says:

        I know, I know…
        Actually after posting this I read Phil Plait’s take on the movie, which, adding to your incentive here and my current need for some escapism (it’s been a week since I saw the latest Wes Anderson), I reconsidered my position and will get in the theater armed with my best suspension of disbelief and forgiving spirit.
        I used a whole lot of that with “Avatar” and its stale clichéed plot…

        Speaking of Gollum and the lava river (why wouldn’t he splash, float and sink? It’s a “river”!), wasn’t there something similar or worse in Star Wars?

        • Archivistwolf says:

          I believe you’re thinking of the battle at the end of the third prequel film, when Anokin became Darth.

      • kepler20f says:

        OK, I watched it. Four stars indeed for the artistic and technological work, creating some great visual illusions. We are, after all, 44 years away from Kubrick’s masterpiece.

        As for the movie itself, I’m just going to say this: I don’t think Sir Ridley Scott is a very sophisticated individual.

  2. Power Wench says:

    Even more fun than Mentos and Diet Coke!

  3. CathyW says:

    darn, says the video has been removed by the user


  4. CathyW says:

    thanks for finding the alt. addy. That was brilliant, altho what on earth was in that bag!

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