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Day 115: Geology in the News February 22, 2007

Posted by Admin in Geology, Links, Science in the News.

1. Will dropping clumps of cement into an Indonesian volcano make it stop oozing mud which is inundating entire villages below? This attempt at correcting a man-made problem seems fairly weak. The effort will probably not work, in the expert view of scientists:

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian plans to plug a mud volcano that has displaced more than 10,000 people by dropping clusters of concrete balls into it is unlikely to stop the flow, a Japanese scientist said on Tuesday.

The mud eruption that has inundated entire villages since May followed an oil drilling accident in Sidoarjo, an industrial suburb on the eastern part of Java island.

Numerous efforts to cap the flow have failed and it has become a political and environmental issue, with the government and the drilling company under fire from critics for what they say were lax safety standards behind the accident.

In the latest effort to brake the flow of hot liquid mud, the government has announced plans to drop 1,500 concrete balls in clusters linked by metal chains and weighing around 400-500 kilograms (800-1,000 lbs) each into the mouth of the volcano.

… Two towers are being built to launch the 375 chains of balls into a 50-meter hole from where the mud has been gushing, with each chained cluster consisting of four balls, he said.

2. A great analysis of fulgurites – natural glass made from lightning strikes in sand – is available from Science News Online:

Stroke of Good Fortune: A wealth of data from petrified lightning
Sid PerkinsThe lumps of glass created when lightning strikes sandy ground can preserve information about ancient climate, new research indicates.

Worldwide, lightning flashes occur about 65 times per second. Each bolt releases as much energy as is stored in a quarter-ton of TNT. The flash heats the air to about 30,000°C, about five times the temperature of the surface of the sun. If that electrical discharge strikes sandy ground, it can melt and then fuse sand and other materials into masses of glass called fulgurites, says Rafael Navarro-González, a geochemist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. Those masses take their name from fulgur, the Latin word for lightning.

A current event write-up (Write a total of 5 paragraphs, one each for the who, what, when, where, and why of the article) for one of the articles above (your choice) is due tomorrow (Friday, 02/23) in class. Be sure to click the link for the story of your choice so you can read the entire article before completing your write-up.



1. Homework for Friday, 02/23/07 « THS 9th Grade Team - February 23, 2007

[…] about uses of igenous rocks in class. Current event write-up (Who, what, when, where, why) for article on fulgurites due today at start of class. If you missed Tuesday’s Mineral ID lab, this lab must be made up […]

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