The strange substance that was formed after a lightning bolt baffles scientists: “We have never seen anything like it.”

Lightning strikes a tree near Florida, USA It led to the formation of a new phosphorous substance in a rock that occurs for the first time on Earth. The strange creation greatly baffles experts, who determine that there is no precedent for it.

We have never seen this substance occur naturally on Earth.. Similar minerals can be found in meteorites and in space, however We haven’t seen this exact article anywhere. It is something unprecedentedUniversity of South Florida geologist Matthew Pasek admitted.

A recent study published in Earth and Environment CommunicationsPasek examines how high-energy events, such as lightning, They can cause unique chemical reactions and, in this case, result in a new substance, which is a transition between space minerals and minerals on Earth..

“When lightning strikes a tree, the ground usually explodes and the grass around it dies, scarring and sending an electric discharge through nearby rocks, soil and sand, creating fulgurite, also known as ‘fossilized lightning,'” he explained in a statement.

A lightning strike on a tree near Florida, USA, led to the formation of a new phosphorous substance in a rock that occurs for the first time on Earth.University of South Florida

When the people of the area discover the “lightning scar”, they find fulgurite and decide to sell it, assuming it has value. Pasek bought it and then began collaborating with Luca Bindi, a professor of mineralogy and crystallography at the University of Florence, Italy.

Together, the team set out to investigate unusual minerals containing the element phosphorus, particularly those formed by lightning, to better understand the high-energy phenomenon. “It is important to understand how much energy lightning has because then we know how much damage it can cause,” said the expert.

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He added, “Florida is the lightning capital of the world, and safety is important: if lightning is strong enough to melt rocks, it can certainly melt people too.” In humid environments, like in Florida, Pasek says iron builds up and embeds itself in tree roots.

In this case, the lightning not only burned the iron in the roots of the tree, but the carbon in the tree as well. These two elements triggered a chemical reaction that led to the formation of a special fulgurite. Inside it, there was a previously undiscovered colored and crystalline substance.

The interaction of two elements, together with lightning, creates fulgurite that looks like a metallic “balloon”. University of South Florida

Co-principal investigator Tian Feng, a graduate of the USF Geology program, attempted to recreate the material in the lab. The experiment was unsuccessful He points out that the material was likely formed under specific conditions, and if heated too much, it would transform into the metal found in meteorites.

Previous researchers indicate that the reduction of phosphates by lightning was a widespread phenomenon in the early Earth.Feng said. “However, there is a problem of environmental phosphite deposits on the ground, and these solid phosphate materials are difficult to recover,” he stressed.

For a geologist, this research may reveal the plausibility of other forms of reducing minerals and their importance in the evolution of life on Earth.

Meanwhile, for Pasek, the material is unlikely to be mined for uses similar to other phosphates, such as fertilizers, given its rarity in natural occurrence. However, he plans to research more into the substance to determine if it can be officially declared as a mineral and to raise awareness among scientists.

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With information from Europa Press


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