How quickly can you walk across lava? Would it burn through your shoe?

If you needed to walk across lava, it is possible.  If it is pahoehoe lava (the smooth glassy type) it will support your weight after only 5-10 minutes once it stops moving. It will still be pretty hot and uncomfortable, and probably might melt your boots, but if you absolutely had to get across such a flow you could. ‘A’a flows are a different story. They are the big rough-surfaced flows with a top surface made up of broken and spiny blocks called clinkers. You can walk on an ‘a’a flow while it is still moving but it is not very pleasant. ‘A’a is not very fluid so you don’t have to worry about sinking in but because there are so many spaces between the clinkers for heat to escape, they are really hot. You would only cross a hot one if you absolutely had to. As for burning through your shoe, the lava would burn through only if you left your shoe in the lava (most normal people would pull their foot out pretty fast!). There was a case a few years ago where a geologist accidentally stepped into some lava. The nylon laces of his boots burned off almost instantly but the thick leather did not, and he had only minor burns on his foot. After that we all made sure that we only wear real leather boots out on active flows, not the lightweight part-nylon kind.


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