During volcanic eruptions, everything and everyone nearby is usually in danger.
Traditionally, volcanoes are known as magma chambers with a bit of a hot temper that spew hot molten lava and volcanic ash into the atmosphere. They are also responsible for releasing gases such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide.
While most volcanoes are nothing but bad news, Ol Doinyo Lengai, which is in the heart of the Arusha Region of Tanzania, is turning everything we thought we knew about volcanoes on its head.
Unlike most lava that escapes an active volcano, natrocarbonatite lava, which is what’s released from Ol Doinyo Lengai, never exceeds 950 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s about half the temperature of normal lava.
Because of this lower temperature, the color of the lava isn’t that familiar red color. In fact, it’s almost always black.
The uniqueness of this lava doesn’t stop at its temperature and color. While most lava is jam-packed with silicate minerals, natrocarbonatite lava is rich in the rare minerals nyerereite and gregoryite. It’s also more liquid in form than most silicate-based lava.
Large streams of natrocarbonatite lava have been known to fly into the air, freeze, and shatter after a strong gust of wind.
It is not known why Ol Doinyo Lengai releases this lava, but it is widely speculated that it came into existence after normal magma was unable to mix properly because of the elements present there.
The rare lava is so relatively cold that in 2007, a man fell into it and was able to survive.
The man, a local porter, was saved by group of tourists. Though he didn’t die, he did suffer severe burns to both of his legs and one arm.
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