Understanding interactions between volcanic eruptions and the cryosphere (a.k.a. glaciovolcanism) is important for climate reconstructions as well as for hazard mitigation at ice-clad volcanoes. Here we present unique field observations of interactions between snowpack and advancing basaltic lava flows during the 2012–13 eruption at Tolbachik volcano, Kamchatka, Russia. Our observations show that lava–snow heat transfer is slow, and that styles of lava propagation control snowpack responses. ′A′a and sheet lava flows advance in a rolling caterpillar-track motion on top of the rigid, snowpack substrate with minor lava–snow interaction. In contrast, pahoehoe lava propagates by inflation of lobes beneath/inside the snowpack, producing rigorous lava–snow interaction via meltwater percolation down into the incandescent lava causing production of voluminous steam, rapid surface cooling and thermal shock fragmentation. The textures produced by pahoehoe–snowpack interactions are distinctive and, where observed at other sites, can be used to infer syn-eruption seasonality and climatic conditions.
Edwards, B.R., A. Belousov, and M. Belousova. "Propagation Style Controls Lava-Snow Interactions." Nature Communications 5, Article number 5666 (2014). https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms6666