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Gallery 3

Fluidisation

Red-lit fluidised particles flowing upwards
A trapezoid shape with red, pinks and yellows in the centre.

A model of how magma moves up through to the Earth's surface to create volcanoes and cinder cones.

How it works

Turn a handle to direct a stream of air through a tankful of tiny glass beads.

Things to try or ask around the exhibit

What happens when you change the direction of air flow?

Background

The movement of air and glass beads represents how magma flows up to the Earth's surface. Turning the handle causes air to flow into the glass beads, making it less dense. The beads rise as more air gets mixed in and patches of denser sand move down. This is called fluidisation.

Finding the science in your world

A similar fluidisation process happens in some gas-rich volcanic eruptions, where gas erupts through volcanic rock particles to form volcanic pipes (diatremes) and crater-shaped tuff cones at the Earth’s surface.