Volcano in a trash can

Plinian eruptions are named after Pliny the Younger and Pliny the Elder, who wrote about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 and died during said eruption, respectively. This is one of several different types of volcanic eruptions, but it's also one of the most iconic. In a Plinian eruption, a column of magma, gas, and ash shoots straight up, with the gas and ash reaching all the way up into the stratosphere. These are the big, explosive eruptions, with mushroom clouds and rains of rocks and boulders.

Matt Kuchta, geology professor at the University of Wisconsin Stout, recently recreated a classic Plinian eruption using a 32-gallon trash can filled with water, 100 rubber ducks, and some liquid nitrogen. In slow motion, you can see the column of water and ducks rise straight up, fan out at the top, and fall back down to Earth. Just imagine the damage if all the ducks were boulders, and you get the picture.

Video link

Types of volcanic eruptions from Wikipedia

More on Plinian eruptions from the US Geological Survey

Watch several other videos of Kuchta's trash can volcano

Via Ron Schott


  1. I’m not sure that I’d appreciate explosive science demonstrations being performed that close to my parked car.  Just saying . . .

  2. And also like volcanoes, those cans can blow out the side of the can instead of straight up.  Last time I saw it happen was when there wasn’t enough water in the trashcan.

  3. Proof of Pratchett’s assertion that 
    ‘Geography is just physics slowed down, with a couple of trees stuck in it.’

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