experimenting with large gifs

Major volcanic eruptions can be accompanied by pyroclastic flows, a mixture of rock and hot gases capable of burying entire cities, as happened in Pompeii when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 C.E. For even larger eruptions, such as the one at Peach Spring Caldera some 18.8 million years ago, the pyroclastic flow can be powerful enough to move half-meter-sized blocks of rock more than 150 km from the epicenter. Through observations of these deposits, experiments like the one above, and modeling, researchers were able to deduce that the Peach Spring pyroclastic flow must have been quite dense and flowed at speeds between 5 - 20 m/s for 2.5 - 10 hours! Dense, relatively slow-moving pyroclastic flows can pick up large rocks (simulated in the experiment with large metal beads) both through shear and because their speed generates low pressure that lifts the rocks so that they get swept along by the current. (Image credit: O. Roche et al., source)