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Monday, December 22, 2008

Drillers Strike First-Ever Pocket of Magma

A collapsed vent allows hot lava to peek through solidified rock at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano near where drillers directly struck a magma pocket.


A drilling crew in Hawaii recently became the first humans known to drill into magma—the melted form of rock that sometimes erupts to the surface as lava—in its natural environment.

"This is an unprecedented discovery," said Bruce Marsh, a volcanologist from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, who will be studying the find.

According to National Geographic, Marsh said volcanologists usually have to do "postmortem studies" of long-solidified magmas or study active lava during volcanic eruptions. But this time they'd found magma in its natural environment—something Marsh described as nearly as exciting as a paleontologist finding a dinosaur frolicking on a remote island.

"This is my Jurassic Park," he said.

The find was made 1.5 miles underground during exploratory drilling for geothermal energy. The crew hit something unusual during routine operations. When workers tried to resume drilling, they discovered that magma had risen about 25 feet up the pipe they'd inserted. The rock solidified into a clear glassy substance, apparently because it chilled quickly after hitting groundwater.

Click here for the National Geographic article.

2 comments:

Rossa said...

Like you said in your previous response to one of my comments it's a brilliant time for scientists at the moment, well at least for those prepared to keep an open mind rather than attach themselves to theories which become some form of dogma.

There is certainly a lot going on in trying to find new sources of potential fuel to replace our reliance on carbon. Whatever the answer is to climate change, carbon is a finite source so we need to find a replacement some time.

You may want to take a look at these two:-

http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2008/12/atomic-extremeo.html#more

This is about extremeophiles i.e. bacteria they've found 2 miles down in the rocks and they live on "radiation". Wonder if someone will take a closer look and work out if they are adaptable enough to do something about reducing radioactive material from nuclear waste.

http://fora.tv/2008/07/30/Craig_Venter_on_the_Biofuel_Potential_of_Ocean_Life

And Mr Venter is now looking at biofuels from bacteria in the oceans.

Sorry, I seem to be chucking things at you but you're right about it being exciting!

Rossa said...

Oops! On that last link the final word is Life.