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Black lava from this bizarre volcano could reveal Earth’s deep secrets

Tanzania’s Ol Doinyo Lengai is the only volcano known to spew out carbonatite lava, which could offer fresh clues about Earth’s mysterious mantle – but getting hold of a sample is no simple matter



Earth



24 November 2021

BLACK LAVA isn’t what any reasonable person would expect to find inside their cocktail shaker. But when you are holding it, dangling over the edge of a crater in Tanzania, trying to study the world’s strangest volcano, it is exactly what you want to see.

Stealing lava isn’t usually so tricky. Sure, it is often many hundreds of degrees hotter than boiling water – not the kind of thing to dip your fingers into. But, armed with a decent shovel, you can dig into a lava flow and chuck some into a bucket of water, preserving its geological marvels. “Scooping it up is the easy bit,” …

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