…and we’re not talking the kind of eruption you might experience after an evening of hard partying and a late-night McDonalds run. We’re talking the the kind that release deadly gases from within the earth.

The physics of a bar prank that causes beer to overflow with foam by tapping the top of a beer bottle is being used by researchers to explain the mechanics of volcanic eruptions of lethal gases. Researchers used high-speed cameras and focused laser pulses to examine how bubbles in beer bottles form when being “tapped” as occurs in the popular bar prank. The scientists found that a sudden impact induces waves that cause bubbles to expand and quickly collapse. The sudden collapse of bubbles form cavities that lead to explosions of foam which rush upward. The physics examined in this process are helping researchers better understand how deadly gases are released during events called limnic eruptions in which dissolved CO2 is suddenly released from the earth. “A better understanding of the physics behind limnic eruptions could be of interest to quantify when they could happen and, more importantly, how much carbon dioxide can be released,” one of the researchers reported.

You can read the full report here, published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

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