From filmmaker Marc Szeglat comes this video of a "lava art craft worker" scrambling his way up a lava flow on Italy's Mount Etna, one of the most active volcanos on Earth. The flow is literally glowing with heat, which makes this craft worker literally an idiot.
Writes Szeglat, who has been filming and photographing volcanos for over twenty years:
You can´t survive the contact to molten lava long time. the radiation heat is very high, some hundred degrees [Ed note: this is in Celsius, remember, not Fahrenheit]. his shoes were burning a little bit after some seconds. i filmed a guy, witch had some longer contact to natriumcarbonatite (thin lava type) at ol doinyo lengai. his foot was burned very bad. [Ed note: well yes, obviously.]
Lava flows move very, very slowly, so they rarely kill anybody. In fact, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, lava flows are really only deadly "when onlookers approach an advancing lava flow too closely or their retreat is cut off by other flows." We would call this worker's approach "too close," seeing as his boot appears to be in immediate danger of combusting by the time he scampers off the top of the glowing ooze. Also, he really shouldn't be tromping up the slope like that. And he should be wearing a heat-resistant suit. According to Erik Klemetti (Wired's resident geology expert) and his indespensible guide to lava-walking:
You’d need something like snow shoes, except instead of a mesh you have a sole of some heat resistant material. You don’t want to use anything that will transfer heat, so maybe the best bet would be asbestos – probably at least 25 cm thick. You’d want the soles to be big so they can block some of the radiant heat from the lava and you’d need to wear a heat-resistant suit... as well. And you’d need to walk reeeeal slowly because falling down is not an option.
Or, you know, just avoid the lava flows altogether. Some risks just aren't worth taking – even with the suit and the special shoes.
For more on lava-walking, check out this in-depth piece from Klemetti over at Wired.