|"It's a very rare ability. Maybe you do have some talent."|
|— Toph Beifong to Bolin about his ability to lavabend.|
Lavabending is a specialized sub-skill of earthbending that allows the user to manipulate molten earth. This rare ability allows the bender to phase-change earth into lava, lava into earth, and otherwise manipulate existing lava with great dexterity.
Centuries later, the technique was utilized by Avatar Kyoshi when Chin approached her peninsula in an attempt to claim it as part of his empire. In order to protect her people, Kyoshi utilized her bending to split the peninsula from the Earth Kingdom mainland. In order to accomplish this, Kyoshi created fissures and bent lava up from underneath the landmass in order to sever it completely from the continent.
While attempting to master the Avatar State by harnessing the energy of the sun during the winter solstice in 55 BG, Avatar Roku remained stuck in the Avatar State as a result of the overwhelming power that rushed through his body. During this time, he inadvertently caused the eruption of a small volcano near the Fire Temple on Crescent Island. Roku eventually mastered the Avatar State and used lavabending once more in 12 BG, diverting a massive lava flow in an attempt to save his home island from a volcanic eruption.
Following his death, Avatar Roku manifested through Aang in 99 AG and used lavabending to destroy the Fire Temple during the winter solstice, in order to punish the Fire Sages who had since abandoned their duties to the Avatar in service of the Fire Lord.
Shortly after the Hundred Year War, Sun began using lavabending in underground bending tournaments in Yu Dao. The unusual tremors were detected by Toph Beifong's seismic sense, and she followed the sensations to the arena. Sun later lavabent against a waterbender opponent, although the lava damaged the abandoned warehouse and caused it to collapse. After Toph and her students helped rescue Sun and his friends, she invited them to enroll in the Beifong Metalbending Academy so he could learn to properly use his abilities.
In 171 AG, Ghazan created a shuriken-like lava projectile using three pieces of earth, which he subsequently used to break out of his prison and subdue his guards. The earthbender used the same technique in order to liberate Ming-Hua from her prison shortly after his escape. During his group's escape from Republic City, Ghazan turned a portion of the road into lava in order to stall police cars in pursuit of him and his associates.
Ghazan used the technique once again on a much grander scale in order to create a moat of lava around himself and his group during their infiltration of Zaofu. During the battle that ensued, Ghazan lifted a column of lava in order to prevent metalbending guards from building a bridge toward them. In the Misty Palms Oasis, he manipulated fireball-shaped blobs of lava and used them to overwhelm Bolin's earth shields.
After the Red Lotus assassinated the Earth Queen and Zaheer announced the independence of Ba Sing Se's citizens, Ghazan used lavabending to single-handedly tear down the Inner Wall that divided the city's rings. Liquefying the base of the wall, he caused the lava to expand, resulting in the explosive collapse of the structure.
When the Red Lotus invaded the Northern Air Temple, Ghazan used lavabending to block Kai and his fellow airbenders from escaping. He also used the technique later on in his fight with Bumi, causing irreparable damage to the temple's infrastructure. Several days later, Ghazan used lava to subdue the members of Team Avatar, destroying the entire Northern Air Temple by turning a single portion into lava. While fleeing from the temple grounds, Bolin discovered his lavabending capabilities and used his newfound skill to divert a wave of lava before turning it back into solid earth.
In a series of caves near the Northern Air Temple, Ghazan turned the earth underneath Avatar Korra into a pool of lava and later created more heated earth during his battle with Bolin. During the duel, both Bolin and Ghazan created and redirected lava tendrils until the latter was eventually cornered with the arrival of Mako, forcing him to turn the surrounding cave walls into lava and bring the cave down around him, killing himself.
By 174 AG, Bolin had improved his control over the skill and utilized it more readily in combat; he used it to melt the armor of two mecha suits from the military of the Earth Empire when he, Varrick, and Zhu Li tried to desert the army. A couple of days later, after he and Varrick were captured by escaped prisoners, Bolin used lavabending to separate them from the hostile fugitives, who believed them to be Earth Empire loyalists. Forging an alliance with the prisoners, Bolin used the art again later that day to create a large stream of lava, defending the entire group against two Earth Empire soldiers at a military checkpoint.
While trying to stop Kuvira's giant mecha suit from taking over Republic City, Bolin sunk its left foot in a pool of lava to give the airbenders the opportunity to knock it over, though Kuvira managed to pull out of the danger unscathed. Later, he lavabent a disc, which he used to cut through a metal hatch, as well as in combat against a metalbender. Some time later, he used Ghazan's shuriken-like lava projectile to cut through Tokuga's hook swords, taking the Triple Threat Triad's leader by surprise.
Lavabending provides an earthbender with an array of both offensive and defensive possibilities during battle. Only a small amount of earth is necessary to create a useful amount of lava to bend, with Ghazan fashioning a shuriken-like projectile from just three small rocks that was capable of burning through wood; this is beneficial in environments with very little earth to manipulate. In addition, the use of lavabending to turn a portion of the earth into lava allows earthbenders to isolate themselves from their opponents and avoid battles at close range. The attacks at a lavabender's disposal range from small scale, like the lava shuriken, to larger attacks, such as conjuring blasts of lava or entire streams or waves, straight out of the earth.
The use of earth in a liquid state turns this bending into something closer to waterbending, requiring more fluid movements and allowing a more supple combat style. Due to its own nature, lava can spread and cause more damage when left unattended, much like how fire is perceived by more prudent firebenders.
† indicates deceased.
- Avatar Extras for "The Avatar State" stated that lavabending was a combination of earthbending and firebending and thus something that only the Avatar could accomplish. Book Three: Change rectified this and revealed lavabending to be a rare specialized technique of earthbending.
- In the non-canon Super Deformed Short "Bending Battle", lavabending was shown as an application of firebending with Zuko creating and riding a lava dragon from an erupting volcano.
- Lavabending is the first bending sub-skill shown in the franchise; it was first showcased by Roku when he destroyed the Fire Temple.
- All lavabenders depicted in the series, with the exception of Avatar Kyoshi, have been male.
- Lavabending is the only specialized sub-skill that is not explored in terms of mechanics and philosophical understanding.