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The Kid Should See This

Mount Etna’s volcanic vortex rings in action

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Deep inside Sicily’s Mount Etna, gas bubbles at the magma’s surface burst, propelling them up at high speed through the stratovolcano‘s cylindrical vent. This shapes the water vapor, interlaced with sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide gases, into ring-like formations that puff into the sky over the Italian island.

Via The Washington Post, volcanologist Boris Behncke at the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology’s Etna observatory notes that “you won’t get rings from a more irregular shape of the vent.”

The Straits Times video above shares quiet footage of the rare phenomenon. From the caption: “The rings have led locals to re-name the volcano ‘Lady of the Rings.’”

volcanic vortex ring dynamics
The flying hoop formations are known as volcanic vortex rings, or VVRs, via this February 2023 scientific article:

“First observations of VVRs at Etna and Vesuvius volcanoes (Italy) date back to 1724 and are documented in an engraved plate from 1755. A paper on VVRs was published by Perret, who observed them on Etna (Italy) in 1910. In more recent times, VVRs have also been observed at different volcanoes (e.g., Redoubt (Alaska), Tungurahua (Ecuador), Pacaya (Guatemala), Eyjafjallajökull and Hekla (Iceland), Stromboli (Italy), Aso and Sakurajima (Japan), Yasur (Vanuatu), Whakaari (New Zealand) and Momotombo (Nicaragua)) (Table 1).

smoke ring
Make your own vortex rings with this activity: How to make smoke rings with a simple DIY vortex cannon.

Then watch a few related volcano and vortex videos:
What is a Volcano?
• Volcanic Eruptions 101: How It Happens
Wake vortex in the fog as an airplane lands
Birds gliding through helium bubbles reveal an aerodynamic trick
• A vortex of bubbles twirls pufferfish
How to make a homemade vortex cannon

Via Colossal.


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