MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Artwork of a pyroclastic flow destroying a forest. A pyroclastic flow (also known as a pyroclastic density current) is a rapidly-moving body of hot gas and rock ejected explosively from a volcano. They can move at speeds of up to 700 km/h and, harbouring internal temperatures of around 1000 Celsius, they typically incinerate and obliterate everything that crosses their path. This scene shows such a flow, hugging the ground in typical fashion as it approaches a forest bordering New Zealand's Lake Taupo, some 1800 years ago.
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