La Palma has been releasing some spectacular news stories recently (did you hear about the dog drone rescue?), and now it has started releasing lava bombs, which are essentially scorching cannonballs. One such lava lump can be seen enthusiastically climbing down the sloping landscape in a video published on Twitter, periodically giving off little flames (apparently to move faster) as it bounces around on the rough ground. Lava bombs are molten rock chunks that explode from volcanoes during an eruption. They blasted out in a sticky state, but as they soar into the air, they harden, sometimes traveling hundreds of kilometers away from the volcano.
Because of the fluidity of the lava, they generated from and how they aerodynamically sculpted as they flew through the air, lava bombs come in a variety of forms. As a result, lava bombs occur in a variety of shapes and sizes, with the type of lava bomb determined by how it forms and settles.
When forces impinge on the magma’s surface tension, it can form “ribbon bombs” that resemble long cylinders, or it can settle in a ball shape. When a lava bomb hits the ground while still hot, it can slam to the ground and produce a cow pie bomb, which looks like… well, cow excrement. Like a nice loaf that will burn your face off, these delectably, titled bread-crust bombs generate enticing fissures on their surfaces. Bread-crust bombs are also the most likely to detonate due to gas pressure, so keep a safe distance from them.
While entertaining, these blazing cannonballs come with a long list of negative consequences if you get in their way. Some can be rather large, as seen by an eruption on Mount Asama in Japan, which ejected lava bombs of 5 to 6 meters (16 to 20 feet) in diameter. They were reaching lengths of 600 meters (2,000 feet) even at this massive size, illustrating the very serious danger these magma bullets pose. That said, it is lovely to witness this small lava lump enjoying a good time on La Palma from a safe distance.
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