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Fulgarites and springs of water

14 April 2023
Astronomy, Geology

Robewrt sent in the link https://phys.org/news/2023-04-geoscientist-phosphorus-material-lightning.html … a fulgarite formed by lightning in Florida consists of a glass like melt surrounding an internal void which in turn is surrounded by a crust consisting of cemented sand grains. Within the glass are spherules of iron metal enriched with phosphorous. This is said to be a phosphorous otherwise unknown to science – although similar minerals have turned up in meteorites and space. However, the phosphorous itself is something new. Fulgarites are sometimes described as ‘fossilised lightning’ and are themselves quite common. No doubt most fulgarites have not been subject to intense analysis as this one. In wet environments such as Florida, iron will accumulate at tree roots – but in this case the lightning combusted carbon in the tree as well – or that is the interpretation.

Robert also sent in the link to https://phys.org/news/2023-04-liquid-spewing-oregon-seafloor-cascadia.html … and he added the comment, ‘underwater spring water. Chemically distinct water and methane bubbles from the deep. Somehow this is made to fit into the Plate Tectonoics paradigm.’ Warm liquid spewing from the Oregon sea floor – at the so called Cascadia Subduction Zone. More commonly known as an earthquake fault zone. The location is actually 50 miles offshore of Newport in Oregon in seawater around two thirds of a mile deep. The source of the spring, it is suggested, may be two and a half miles beneath the seafloor. That of course is an estimate based on Plate Tectonics. This region was not always underwater, we may note, and it is just as likely it was a spring of fresh water that was sunk following tectonic activity. It is assumed to be a subduction zone as that is the mainstream mantra, from a geological perspective.

A research vessel noticed a plume of bubbles and decided to investigate. They did this via an underwater robot that was despatched to discover where the bubbles were emanating from. They turned out to be a minor part of the story as they were part of something bigger, a warm chemically distinct fluid gushing out of the seafloor sediment. It was coming out like a fire hose, we are told, and within a region of vertical faults that cross hatch the sea floor. These are also described as strike slip faults. It may be the methane had an origin in the sediments that were caught up by the spring of water. On the other hand it may not as we are also told this spring of water lubricates the faults, reducing friction, from one slab of rock sliding up against, or up and down, each other.

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