Scientists Are Sizzling Sausages On The Lava From Iceland's Erupting Volcano

Really puts the 'hot' in hot dog. Image credit: Thorrir Ingvarsson/

Science can be hungry work, and when you’ve spent the day sciencing next to an incredibly hot heap of lava only a fool would turn down the opportunity to cook up some sausages. The sizzle-fest kicked off on Sunday on Geldingadalir, a volcano close to Reykjavik, Iceland, which recently erupted with glorious enthusiasm. Video footage captured by scientists and shared by Reuters shows the delicious end result being casually stuffed into a hotdog bun and doused in ketchup as if it hadn't just been cooked on literal lava.

The eruptions at Geldingadalir came as no surprise to Iceland’s residents who, having wobbled their way through over 50,000 earthquakes in the last few weeks, were aware of what was coming. Earthquakes often occur before a volcano erupts though they tend to be little and often rather than the kind of devastating earthquakes that occur when tectonic plates shift.

The grumbling that comes before an eruption is the result of magma exerting pressure on the volcano’s solid surface until it cracks the rock. These cracks instantly get filled with some liquid magma which hardens and then the pressure starts to build up again, making further cracks. Every time one of these cracks appears it creates a small earthquake which aren’t always easy to notice on the human-wobble scale but can be reliably picked up by Richter scale instruments.

Where these earthquakes occur gives scientists an idea of the volcano’s magma pathways as well as when an eruption is likely to happen. Once the volcano finally erupts, the constant flow of magma creates what’s known as a harmonic tremor, a continuous release of seismic energy from the movement of the flowing magma underground. This too will be picked up by instruments, but it won’t be noticeable to humans.

Perhaps, to a volcanologist, the steady seismic rumble is a call to arms for sausage sizzlers within Richter range, announcing that nature has chucked up a perfect hotdog roller. The efficacy of cooking sausages in this way, unfortunately, remains unclear with the video not including a review of how the hot dogs actually tasted. Given most volcanic eruptions are a pretty stinky affair – with the smell of sulfur (like rotting eggs) being a particular pungent accent – cooking on lava probably doesn’t do much for the flavor. That the site was closed off to the public the next day due to high levels of gas pollution means it was probably already getting pretty whiffy up there on Sunday.

Iceland’s sausage party isn’t even the first time the Earth’s heat has prepared some meat, as just last year a man was banned from Yellowstone National Park in the US for cooking two chickens in a hot spring. You might think the punishment seems a little harsh for someone getting out in nature, but previous escapades to the water’s edge have resulted in people not just dying but dissolving within 24 hours.

Maybe just stick to the oven.


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