By Anupum Pant
Common basaltic magmas are red hot. Their temperatures can range anywhere from 1000 to 1200 degrees centigrade. Whereas much cooler ones like Andesitic magma and the coolest silicate magma, Rhyolitic magma, range from 800 to 1000 degrees and 650 to 800 degrees respectively. Sampling these viscous and sticky lavas can be a tough job.
But when it comes to the most strangest lava you could find on earth, things get really strange. Presently, Tanzania’s Ol Doinyo Lengai is the only volcano that erupts the strange natrocarbonatite lava – a type of igneous rock rich in carbonates such as calcite and dolomite.
This magma erupts at about 500 degrees celsius, which is almost half the temperature of those other common basalt lavas, and is cool enough to be sampled using a simple spoon. Still hot, but nothing like even the coolest silicate magmas. Unlike the other common lavas, this one is mostly black, turns white within 24 hours of eruption and is red at night. And has a viscosity lesser than that of water.
What makes it weird is its chemical composition, which unlike those common red lavas found everywhere else, is made up of calcium, sodium and carbon dioxide.