Many of us can fondly remember building a volcano as a science project. The banking soda and vinegar eruption seemed immensely cool as a kid but it pales in comparison to the “volcano” that artist Bob Wysocki and geologist Jeff Karson built as part of a research project.

The Syracuse University faculty members started with a bronze furnace used to melt metal for statues and modified it so that it could melt basaltic gravel – the stuff the earth’s crust is made of – at 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Once heated up, the team is able to pour the molten rock (lava) out and observe how different slopes, temperatures and flow rates behave.

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