Here is some more information on pyroclastic flows, which is the type of lava flow that the new facility in New York will be studying.
Pyroclastic flows are considered dangerous because they are fast moving and explosive. They contain hot gas and fragments of rock. These flows can travel at speeds up to 450 miles per hour, flow downhill, may spread out laterally, and can extend for miles. The speed of the flow depends on the slope of the ground and the size of the flow. A cloud of ash rises above the flow that hugs the ground.
Here is a video of a pyroclastic flow, using Mt. St. Helens as an example of how unpredictable and disastrous these flows are.