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So this is something I've recently started to think about lately and it's honestly a case of genuine curiosity more than anything else. Many fantasy/adventure-oriented video games usually feature a level defined by flowing rivers of lava, active volcanoes and long stretches of barren, rocky land to trend through. Hell, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith featured an entire planet themed around this exact same concept.

Since these type of environments don't actually exist in real life (well, on Earth at least) my question is, what conditions would need to be met in order for an environment like this to exist in real life and function like they do in video games? How hot would the lava need to be in order for it to be as viscous as water (which is what video game lava basically is)? Could you hop across large rocks situated on top of lava flows like makeshift platforms? Assuming you had both a gas mask and the right kind of getup, could you even set a single foot in this place without burning to a crisp, blowing up or suffocating? Could any sort of life at all adapt to living in an environment like this (this as in, the space between the lava flows and rivers, not the actual lava itself)?

Also, key note. I'm not interested in HOW this environment came to be, only the way it would function.

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    $\begingroup$ Isn't there a volcano which's spewing fluid lava almost day and night, since a quite long time? I can't recall its name... $\endgroup$ – Tortliena Mar 3 at 12:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena, Mauna Kea in the Hawaii $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Mar 3 at 13:00
  • $\begingroup$ "How hot would the lava need to be in order for it to be as viscous as water (which is what video game lava basically is)?" maybe I don't play enough games with lava in them but the last one I remember having lava basically being water (but deadly) was Quake where the lava was literally just different textured water. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Mar 3 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ @VLAZ - Sorry for the hour late reply, but what I meant by that statement was that most video games usually treat lava as red colored water. People sink in the stuff like water, it splashes around like water, it can be diverted like water and you can bet you backside it flows like water too. Obviously this isn't at all how it works in real-life, but according to TV Tropes, lava can apparently be heated to the point of water-like viscosity and that's one of the things I want to know with this question. $\endgroup$ – Crystal King Mar 3 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ Thermophilic bacteria already exist IRL $\endgroup$ – nzaman Mar 4 at 4:22
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Lava rivers exist in real life, especially in volcanic areas where the lava is basic, thus very fluid, like Iceland, Hawaii and all over the globe where a rift is open (bonus, those are mostly underwater). Viscosity of lava is mostly dictated by its chemical composition: the more acidic it is, the more viscous it is. And viscous lava tend to explode, because of the gas it traps.

Due to the scorching heat radiated by the molten lava there is no life which can survive in the immediate proximity of a lava flow: apart from heat damage, any water would be quickly dried away.

And even humans would not fare well in those environments. Volcanologist wear protective gear to not get charred by the radiant heat, but it's far from being pleasant. Top it with the risk of suffocating. Far from being the funny stunt that you see performed by Lara.

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  • $\begingroup$ @Chasly - Yeah, in hindsight, I wasn't being very clear when I said that. Of course environments defined by lava flows and such exist in reality. What I meant by that statement was that there is no real-life equivalent of a video game fire/lava level. Grass levels would literally be forests or grasslands, desert levels would be deserts, ice levels would be a frozen tundra, even sky levels could be a trip up a mountain so tall, it dips above cloud level. Lava levels however look very different (and frankly more hellish) than anything in real-life that could be even remotely compared to them. $\endgroup$ – Crystal King Mar 3 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Chasly - Still though, thank you for the videos. They were very informative. $\endgroup$ – Crystal King Mar 3 at 13:37
  • $\begingroup$ @L. Dutch - Really? Lava explodes when it's at low viscosity? I actually didn't know that. Thanks so much. $\endgroup$ – Crystal King Mar 3 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ @CrystalKing, lava produces explosions when it's highly viscous, because the trapped gas cannot escape. Compare boiling water to boiling jam or tomato sauce. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Mar 3 at 13:56
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Since these type of environments don't actually exist in real life

They do exist in real life. The word "lava" was not invented by game writers, it came from the real-life phenomenon.

Videos

  1. Video shows man WALKING ON LAVA and now scientists have explained exactly how he did it.

  2. Watch A Man Run Through A Scorching Lava Field And Try Not To Wince (scroll to bottom for short version)

  3. This guy putting his foot on Molten Lava


what conditions would need to be met in order for an environment like this to exist in real life and function like they do in video games?

Live near a volcano or move to Hawaii.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Alien 1 in a far future: Why did humanity got extinct? Alien 2 in a far future: We are not sure, but the footage of this specimen running on lava might have some interesting clue $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Mar 3 at 13:09
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    $\begingroup$ Good one chasley. $\endgroup$ – A Rogue Ant. Mar 3 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica Kinda like the dodo fight scene in Ice Age uh? ^.^ $\endgroup$ – Duncan Drake Mar 3 at 18:47

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