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Spectacle and experimentation

The Syracuse University Lava Project is a collaboration between sculptor Bob Wysocki (Assistant Professor, Department of Art) and geologist Jeff Karson (Professor, Department of Earth Sciences) at Syracuse University. The goals of the project include scientific experiments, artistic creations, education, and outreach to the Syracuse University and City communities. Basaltic lava, similar to that found on the seafloor and erupted from volcanoes in Hawaii and Iceland, is melted and poured to produce natural-scale lava flows. The project supports a wide variety of scientific experiments engaging faculty and students at SU and volcanologists from other institutions. The natural beauty and particular properties of the lava are the basis for sculpture projects. In addition, lava pours are staged at the SU Comstock Art Building for classes, student groups, and the public. The SU Lava Project brings the spectacle and excitement of a volcanic eruption to Central New York.

Images and Video

EARTH magazine article
Lava Videos
Videos of lava flow experiments on Robert Wysocki's Vimeo website.
YouTube lava video
This lava flow was made on May 19, 2011. The 3D video can be viewed with (red/cyan) anaglyph glasses. Basaltic lava (350 lbs) is poured on to a 15° slope at a temperature of 1250°C. Large water vapor bubbles formed when the flow eroded the dry sand surface and heated moist underlying material.

Research: Methods and Applications



Visible and Infrared side by side images of lava
Thermal Image of a lava pour on a 5° sand ramp with a corresponding digital image. Spot temperature measurements shown in crosshairs for representative points of the flow (Sp2-pour point, Sp1- crust, and Sp3,Sp4-breakout lobes) in °C. Maximum temperature in the thermal image shown is 1204°C (2200°F). Picture taken using a FLIR Infrared Camera.

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