Throughout history villages and towns have been threatened by the advance of lava flows. People can generally outpace a lava flow but sometimes lava endangers people’s homes and livelihoods. If a lava flow was heading towards your home is there anything you could do to stop it? This month we will take a look at some historical lava flow events and discuss the methods used in an attempt to control nature.
The eruption of a volcano on the Island of Heimaey, Iceland, in 1973 is perhaps the most famous example of man versus lava. During this eruption huge lava flows threatened to engulf the town of Vestmannaeyjar and block off the towns harbour from the open sea .
Lava entering Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland in 1973 .
In an attempt to prevent the flow from entering the town earthen debris barriers were constructed to stall the spread of lava. Unfortunately the lava over topped these barriers and continued to consume the edge of the town and advance towards the harbour.
As the lava started to build out into the Harbour water was pumped onto the flow in an attempt to cool it and halt its progress. To begin with this was done using fire hoses, though these were not powerful enough to reach the upper part of the lava flow which continued to advance .
Boats were used to continuously pump gallons of seawater onto the leading edge of the lava flow . This had a cooling effect on the lava causing it to gradually solidify. In addition to this large pipe constructions, with a greater pumping capacity, were flown in from the US and mainland Iceland, and the lava was eventually stopped before it completely closed off the harbour .
How did studies of the brain improve technology in 2014 and what does this mean for the New Year?
How two halves coming together allow us to see more than we knew before.
How the world's oldest pigment could solve some of our modern problems
Advances in building design need to take proper account of social, environmental and economic interests - then we will make the built environment work for us and not against us.
How science can help art historians to identify the fakes
With uses in processes from carbon dioxide capture to rocket propulsion, the properties of these new solvents can be chemically tailored to suit each specific problem
Diamond one of the most glamorous materials on the planet, but did you also know how many uses it has other than making your fingers sparkle. Find out how it is being used to help treat blindness as well as treat cancer!
This month Joe talks about his work in Design Fiction and how it crosses some interesting borders between Science and Art.
Used in boats, speakers and the latest aircraft, composite materials aren't just lighter - they can also be tailored to give an array of unexpected properties.
New writer to Experimentation Angharad discusses how Science and the Arts can combine to facilitate each other especially in the field of Neuro-aesthetics
Melanie reviews Attachment Theory focusing on how this influential framework applies to romantic relationships