Rare Event…Tree Becomes a Mineral Stone After Being Struck by Lightning

Image: Illustration

WorldTekhno.comA new mineral was discovered as a result of a lightning strike. The mineral is in the form of a rock (fulgurite) left behind when a tree was struck by lightning in Florida, USA. The potential mineral was revealed by scientists who examined the hidden content in the rock as a result of a lightning strike.

Fossilized lightning, created when lightning strikes a tree near New Port Richey, Florida. Fulgurites are formed when a powerful lightning bolt travels through the ground, which melts and liquefies nearby soil, sand, rocks and organic debris. It instantly became a single lump that looked like metal.

Close-up of a fossilized lightning or fulgurite, which contains a potential new mineral. Image: Bindi et al. 2023, (CC BY 4.0) )

Mathew Pasek, a geoscientist at the University of South Florida, admitted that he had never seen this material naturally on Earth before, according to him, minerals that resemble the contents of these blocks can usually be found in meteorites and other objects in outer space.

Although they are similar, scientists also admit that there is nothing exactly like the contents of the fragments on other worlds in outer space.

The owner of the tree in New Port Richey sold the fulgurite to Mathew Pasek. The scientist then studied them, especially the high-energy chemical reactions, such as those triggered by lightning. After breaking up the rock, which is about 7 centimeters long and 2 centimeters wide, Pasek and his co-researchers found an iridescent crystal-like material inside the fulgurite.

Subsequent analysis revealed that the mystery material was a previously unknown material consisting mainly of calcium phosphate (CaHPO3). The team suspects that the new material is a completely new type of mineral, but it will take other scientists a long time to confirm this.

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During their analysis, the researchers also tried to recreate the mineral in the laboratory, but each time they failed. The scientists believe they were unable to recreate the new material because of the speed at which it forms under the right conditions, and it is difficult to predict and replicate. Each time they get close to the desired state, the compound will start to break down into something else because it has been heated for too long.

The researchers hope that this form of calcium phosphate will soon be confirmed as a new mineral and given an official name for its nature. They have not given up either and believe that other new types of minerals can be made through a similar route. Because of this, they hope to examine more fulgurites to test the theory.

In early December 2022, researchers also found an unexpected compound in a rare quasicrystal-type ray fossil in fulgurite unearthed in Nebraska sand dunes. Quasicrystals are unusual crystals that ‘break the rules’ (break chemical laws) with patterns that do not repeat.

Source: Space.com

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