Volcanic Lightning Forms Glass Balls

by Becky Oskin, Senior Writer | March 13, 2015 02:12pm ET
http://www.livescience.com/50137-volcanic-lightning-glass-balls.html?cmpid=559238

Inside towering clouds of volcanic ash, stunning lightning storms can create tiny crystal balls, a new study reports.

Researchers recently discovered smooth glass spheres in ash from explosive volcanic eruptions. Kimberly Genareau, a volcanologist at the University of Alabama, first spotted the orbs while scanning ash from Alaska’s 2009 Mount Redoubt eruption with a powerful microscope. She also found them in ash from Iceland’s 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption.

photo--Forged in a Flash_ Volcanic Lightning Forms Glass Balls

-Forged in a Flash_ Volcanic Lightning Forms Glass Balls

Both volcanoes blasted out billowing ash clouds that triggered spectacular displays of volcanic lightning. Inside these murky clouds, ash particles rub together, generating static electricity that discharges as lightning. [Big Blasts: History’s 10 Most Destructive Volcanoes]
https://www.youtube.com/user/NaturalezaSalvajeHD
Genareau and her colleagues said they think the lightning displays forged the glass balls from particles of volcanic glass. Their findings were published Feb. 27 in the journal Geology.

Volcanoes spit out jagged glass shards during eruptions, along with sharp scraps of rocks and minerals. But lightning within the ash cloudcan heat the air to 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit (30,000 degrees Celsius) for a few millionths of a second, melting the glass particles. These molten droplets then form into balls as they fall through the air, Genareau said.

photo-Electrifying Images of Volcano Lightning

Electrifying Images of Volcano Lightning

Researchers previously knew that volcanic eruptions could produce glass, but the new findings show how that glass can be made into spheres.

“You don’t need volcanic lightning to make glass [in ash], just to get that unusual shape,” Genareau told Live Science.

The round spherules from Mount Redoubt and Eyjafjallajökull are only 50 microns across (1/25,000th of an inch), hundreds of times smaller than the spherules that can be ejected during meteorite impacts. Fountaining lava caught by the wind can also form such glass spherules, called Pele’s tears.

photo--pele's tears - Google Search

-pele’s tears – Google Search

Some of the glass spherules examined in the study were as smooth as crystal balls, but others were hazed by cracks and pits that may have formed when water expanded into steam as the glass melted.

The research team is planning further studies into how and why the spherules formed. For instance, the scientists verified that a violent shock can produce glass spheres in ash when they found a version of the tiny balls in ash left over from experiments by researchers at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. In the experiments, the Canterbury researchers, who are also co-authors on the new findings, zapped artificial ash to investigate how volcanic ash disrupts high-voltage insulators. Their tests were similar to lightning discharges inside an ash cloud, Genareau said.

photo-Electrifying Images of Volcano Lightning

Electrifying Images of Volcano Lightning

Now, after studying samples from several eruptions, the researchers suspect that it is the size of the ash particles that determines whether the glass spheres appear after volcanic lightning strikes, Genareau said. All the spherules found so far are about 50 microns or smaller in size, she said. Larger ash fragments were partially melted, but didn’t completely transform into spherical shapes.

photo-Forged in a Flash_ Volcanic Lightning Forms Glass Balls

Forged in a Flash_ Volcanic Lightning Forms Glass Balls

Genareau said she hopes that the new discovery will spark a search for similar spheres in older ash deposits, which could provide new clues about where and when volcanic lightning strikes.

“Not much is known about how often volcanic lightning occurs, and this provides physical evidence that may be preserved in the geologic record,” she said.

photo-Electrifying Images of Volcano Lightning

Electrifying Images of Volcano Lightning

Follow Becky Oskin @beckyoskin. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Originally published on Live Science.
http://www.livescience.com/50137-volcanic-lightning-glass-balls.html?cmpid=559238

‘Hang Son Soong,’ the Largest Cave on Earth

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2015/03/an-aerial-tour-of-hang-son-soong-the-largest-cave-on-earth/

‘Hang Son Soong,’ the Largest Cave on Earth

Hang Son Doong, located in central Vietnam. Deboodt brought a drone and an array of cameras to help capture the cave system, the largest chamber of which is 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) long, 200 meters (660 ft) high and 150 meters (490 ft) wide. Despite its enormity, the cave was only discovered in 1991 by a local man, and it wasn’t even studied by scientists until about five years ago. One of the most disorienting thing about watching Deboodt’s film was my brain not comprehending the scale of what I was looking at. It’s only once you notice the ant-like people walking through some of the shots that you realize just how massive this place is. You can see more of Deboodt’s cave photography on Instagram. (via PetaPixel)

https://vimeo.com/106048435

Above and Below
from Ryan Deboodt PLUS 6 months ago NOT YET RATED

A collection of timelapse footage from my travels including clouds in the would’s largest cave. I have been working on this project for awhile now and not yet fully finished. Shots from Vietnam, Myanmar, and Nepal.

Above and Below from Ryan Deboodt on Vimeo.

15 Craziest Natural Phenomena on Earth

15 Craziest Natural Phenomena on Earth

From oceans of blood to colossal blue holes filling the ocean floor, we count 15 of the most mysterious and beautiful natural phenomena ever to grace our planet.

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A Few Of The Most Destructive Volcanoes

http://www.livescience.com/16679-most-destructive-volcanoes.html
Deccan Traps – Deccan Plateau, India – about 60 million years ago
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

photo-Deccan Traps

Deccan Traps

The Deccan Traps are a set of lava beds in the Deccan Plateau region of what is now India that cover an area of about 580,000 square miles (1.5 million square kilometers), or more than twice the area of Texas. The lava beds were laid down in a series of colossal volcanic eruptions that occurred between 63 million and 67 million years ago. The timing of the eruptions roughly coincides with the disappearance of the dinosaurs, the so-called K-T mass extinction (the shorthand given to the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction). Evidence for the volcanic extinction of the dinosaurs has mounted in recent years, though many scientists still support the idea that an asteroid impact did the dinosaurs in. Above is an aerial photo of the Lonar Crater in India, which rests inside of the Deccan Plateau, the massive plain of volcanic basalt rock left over from the eruption.

Yellowstone Supervolcano – northwest corner of Wyoming, United States – about 640,000 years ago

Credit: Nina B | shutterstock

photo-Yellowstone Supervolcano

Yellowstone Supervolcano

The history of what is now Yellowstone National Park is marked by many enormous eruptions, the most recent of which occurred about 640,000 years ago, according to the United States Geological Survey. When this gigantic supervolcano erupted, it sent about 250 cubic miles (1,000 cubic kilometers) of material into the air. The eruptions have left behind hardened lava fields and calderas, depressions that form in the ground when material below it is erupted to the surface. The magma chambers thought to underlie the Yellowstone hotspot also provide the park with one of its enduring symbols, its geysers, as the water is heated up by the hot magma that flows underneath the ground. Some researchers have predicted that the supervolcano will blow its top again, an event that would cover up to half the country in ash up to 3 feet (1 meter) deep, one study predicts. The volcano only seems to go off about once every 600,000 years, though whether it ever will happen again isn’t known for sure. Recently though, tremors have been recorded in the Yellowstone area. The midway geyser basin in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park, current day.

Thera – island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea – sometime between 1645 B.C. and 1500 B.C.

Credit: mathom | shutterstock

photo-Thera – island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea

Thera – island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea

While the date of the eruption isn’t known with certainty, geologists think that Thera exploded with the energy of several hundred atomic bombs in a fraction of a second. Though there are no written records of the eruption, geologists think it could be the strongest explosion ever witnessed. The island that hosted the volcano, Santorini (part of an archipelago of volcanic islands), had been home to members of the Minoan civilization, though there are some indications that the inhabitants of the island suspected the volcano was going to blow its top and evacuated. But though those residents might have escaped, there is cause to speculate that the volcano severely disrupted the culture, with tsunamis and temperature declines caused by the massive amounts of sulfur dioxide it spewed into the atmosphere that altered the climate. Above is how the volcanic island of Santorini looks now.

Mount Vesuvius – Pompeii, Roman Empire (now Italy) – 79

Credit: Katie Smith Photography | shutterstock

photo-Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius is a so-called stratovolcano that lies to the east of what is now Naples, Italy. Stratovolcanoes are tall, steep, conical structures that periodically erupt explosively and are commonly found where one of Earth’s plates is subducting below another, producing magma along a particular zone. Vesuvius’ most famous eruption is the one that buried the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in rock and dust in 79, killing thousands. The ashfall preserved some structures of the town, as well as skeletons and artifacts that have helped archaeologists better understand ancient Roman culture. Vesuvius is also considered by some to be the most dangerous volcano in the world today, as a massive eruption would threaten more than 3 million people who live in the area. The volcano last erupted in 1944.

Laki – Iceland – 1783
Credit: smcfeeters | shutterstock

photo-Laki – Iceland

Laki – Iceland

Iceland has many volcanoes that have erupted over the course of history. One notable blast was the eruption of Laki volcano in 1783. Above is the Laki island of Iceland, modern day. The eruption freed trapped volcanic gases that were carried by the Gulf Stream over to Europe. In the British Isles, many died of gas poisoning. The volcanic material sent into the air also created fiery sunsets recorded by 18th-century painters. Extensive crop damage and livestock losses created a famine in Iceland that resulted in the deaths of one-fifth of the population, according to the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program. The volcanic eruption, like many others, also influenced the world’s climate, as the particles it sent into the atmosphere blocked some of the sun’s incoming rays.

Brand-New Island Off Tonga

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/12/new-island-tonga_n_6855562.html?ir=Green&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000044

Brand-New Island Off Tonga Looks Dazzling In Its First Photos

 

The only thing more exhilirating than a little-known island is an island that hasn’t been explored before… AT ALL

Three Tonga locals took the trip of a lifetime on Saturday when they explored a brand-new volcanic island. The mile-long oasis off the coast of Tonga formed about two months ago after an eruption from an underwater volcano.

Scientists say it’s extremely hazardous to visit the new island, but that didn’t keep curious locals away. They traversed the volcanic surface, which is reportedly still hot with magma fragments. There’s a crater, a lake and seabirds laying eggs, local GP Orbassano told a regional newspaper.

The island is unnamed and is expected to erode into the ocean within a few months, but Orbassano thinks there’s potential for tourist visits.

We’ll keep dreaming.

 

Sphinx Once Submerged Under Sea Water?

Fossil Suggests Egyptian Pyramids and Sphinx Once Submerged Under Sea Water
http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1274558-fossil-suggests-egyptian-pyramids-and-sphinx-once-submerged-under-sea-water/?utm_source=Epoch10&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=6

The entire landscape of the Giza Necropolis, including the pyramids and the Sphinx, shows erosion that some say suggests the area was once submerged by sea water. A unique fossil amplifies this theory.

*Image of the Great Sphinx of Giza via Shutterstock

Archaeologist Sherif El Morsi has worked extensively on the Giza Plateau for over two decades, and in 2013 he partnered with Giza for Humanity founder and fellow researcher Antoine Gigal to publish his controversial discovery of this fossil.

Dr. Robert M. Schloch was one of the first scientists to really tackle the subject of the plateau structures being older than previously thought. In the early 1990s, he suggested the Sphinx was thousands of years older than typically believed, going back to 5000–9000 B.C., based on water erosion patterns found both on the statue and the surrounding rock.

Morsi has been digging deeper into the mystery ever since. During one of his photo shoots documenting the erosion patterns of many of the megaliths in the area, he made a discovery that further suggests the area was submerged at one time.

photo-bsgf.geoscienceworld.org

bsgf.geoscienceworld.org

“During my photo shoot of this ancient seashore line, I nearly tripped off a second level temple block,” said Mr. Morsi in an article published on the Gigal Research website. “To my surprise, the bulge on the top surface of the block that nearly made me trip was a petrified exoskeleton of what seems to be an echinoid (sea urchin), which is a shallow sea marine creature.”

Morsi believes the Giza Plateau was once inundated by a sea surge. The Menkara temple site, in particular, may have once been an ancient lagoon when the high sea covered the Necropolis, the Sphinx, the temple complexes, and other sites.

Other scientists have suggested the echinoid in the limestone was exposed by erosion and the creature was part of the original limestone that formed 30 million years ago. But, Morsi countered those claims and suggested that the creature was cemented, or petrified, in a relatively more recent time, citing evidence that the creature is lying gravitationally flat, that it’s in pristine condition, that it is within the intertidal range of the lagoon, and that it is a large specimen unlike the tiny specimens typically found in limestone blocks.

photo-en.wikipedia.org

en.wikipedia.org

“We can clearly see the pristine condition and minute details of the exoskeleton perforation,” continued Morsi, “which means that this marine creature must have petrified from recent times. It is not a body fossil as most fossils are that date back to 30 million years, but petrified by the sediment deposits that have filled its hollow.”

The inundation, Morsi believes, was rather significant, reaching a maximum of about 245 feet (75 meters) over the current sea level and creating a shoreline spanning the Khafra enclosure near the Sphinx to the Menkara temple. Pitting and tidal notches due to waves and tidal ebbing pepper the stones in this area showing a 6.5-foot (2-meter) intertidal range, according to Morsi.

Moreover, at sites such as the Sphinx, the Sphinx temple, and the first 20 courses of the Great Pyramid, the stones are said to exhibit erosion due to deeper water saturation. On temple blocks, there are sediment and alluvial, or material, deposits seen in shallow sea beds and lagoons. As water recedes, it creates an oozing spongy effect in the rock.

photo-David Henderson iStock

David Henderson iStock

For an echinoid to reach 3 inches (8 centimeters), the size of the fossil, it would take about 15 years. Furthermore the amount of sediments and alluvium deposits as well as the intertidal erosion on the shallower areas would takes centuries, suggesting the area was flooded for quite some time.

However, it’s difficult to determine the exact year of the flooding. Over the past 140,000 years, the sea levels have fluctuated by more than 400 feet (120 meters), as major ice-sheets have grown and receded during glacial cycles, according to CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research.