Mentos and soda eruptions- lessons on explosive volcanic eruptions

Heather Wright, Alison Rust (contact), Kathy Cashman
University of Bristol
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Initial Publication Date: December 12, 2013 | Reviewed: July 30, 2015
Students participate in a popular experiment with Mentos candies and soda. This helps them learn about the scientific method, gas saturation, bubble nucleation, and explosive volcanic eruptions.
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This demonstration is impressive and so attracts the attention of students at any level. Through inquiry-based activities students can isolate the factors that cause the eruptions. The teacher can use the soda eruptions as an analogy to help students understand how and why explosive volcanic eruptions occur.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered:

How the activity is situated in the course:

To date we have used as:
1) laboratory activity in undergraduate volcanology course
2) sample demonstration and lesson in an elementary education course (for future teachers)

National or State Education Standards addressed by this activity?:

Science as inquiry
Properties and changes of properties in matter
Motions and forces
Transfer of energy
Chemical reactions


Content/concepts goals for this activity:

Pressure and gas solubility, bubble nucleation, bubble growth, surface tension, kinetic and potential energy, volcanic eruptions, limnic eruptions

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity:

Other skills goals for this activity:

Description of the activity/assignment

Determining whether students have met the goals

Class discussion
Laboratory notes
Written questionnaire

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Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Baur JE, Baur, MB (2006) The ultrasonic soda fountain: A dramatic demonstration of gas solubility in aqueous solutions. Journal of Chemical Education 83:577-580

Harpp KS, Koleszar AM, Geist DJ (2005) Volcanoes in the classroom:a simulation of an eruption column. Journal of Geoscience Education 53:173-175

Mangan M, Sisson TW (2000) Delayed, disequilibrium degassing in rhyolite magma; decompression experiments and implications for explosive volcanism. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 183(3-4):441-455

Spieler O, Kennedy B, Kueppers U, Dingwell DB, Scheu B, Taddeucci J (2004) The fragmentation threshold of pyroclastic rocks. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 226:139-148