Staff Picks: Parking Lot Lava

Artist Bob Wysocki pours homemade lava onto sand in Syracuse, New York.

In a parking lot behind the Comstock Art Facility at Syracuse University, geologist Jeff Karson and sculptor Bob Wysocki cook up something almost unimaginable – homemade lava. Using a gas furnace the size of a small truck, the two professors melt gravel typically used for roadbeds into hot molten rock that they pour onto sand to recreate natural lava flows seen in places like Hawaii, Iceland and Italy.

This summer, 3rd Pod from the Sun is taking a vacation. In the meantime, we’re revisiting some of our favorite episodes. In this episode, listen to Bob and Jeff describe their eight-year lava-making journey, from googling “how to buy basalt” to pouring hot lava into the cavity of a frozen chicken. Learn what Jeff has discovered about the dynamics of volcanic eruptions and hear how Bob has turned pouring lava into an artistic performance. And finally, find out what happens when a scientist and an artist team up to create something truly unique and spectacular.

Watch a video of the duo’s lava pours on the AGU YouTube channel and read more about their story on

This episode was produced and mixed by Shane M Hanlon. The original episode was produced by Lauren Lipuma and mixed by Tori Kerr. 

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