I had a look at combining Maya's 2D procedural textures and a custom deformer this week. It turns out you can produce some pretty sweet effects, which I haven't really delved into too much so far since there is a ton of layering and cool things you can do with the procedural textures, including animating them.
I used MFnMesh.anyIntersection to test for collision from rays fired from the points of the deforming mesh, in the direction of the reverse normal of the plane. A colleague pointed me to MDynamicsUtil.evalDynamics2dTexture which gave me the colour information I needed, after using MFnMesh.getUVAtPoint to retrieve the UV values at the collision point returned from MFnMesh.anyIntersection.
All in all, it's pretty damn speedy considering all the calculations it's performing. I added in the blend falloff functionality from the inflate deformer for some additional deformation options.