Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















TECH SPACE
Penn researchers quantify the changes that lightning inspires in rock
by Staff Writers
Philadelphia PA (SPX) Apr 27, 2017


The study examined a rock fulgurite - a thin layer of glass that forms when lightning strikes a rock's surface. The sample was collected from northern Italy's Mount Mottarone. Image courtesy Reto Giere.

Benjamin Franklin, founder of the University of Pennsylvania, is believed to have experimented with lightning's powerful properties using a kite and key, likely coming close to electrocuting himself in the process.

In a new set of experiments at Penn, researchers have probed the power of lightning in a less risky but much more technologically advanced fashion.

Chiara Elmi, a postdoctoral researcher in Penn's Department of Earth and Environmental Science in the School of Arts and Sciences, led the work, which used a suite of techniques to examine a fulgurite, a thin layer of glass that forms on the surface of rock when lightning hits it. Among other findings, the study discovered that, based on the crystalline material in the sample, the minimum temperature at which the fulgurite formed was roughly 1,700 degrees Celsius.

"People have been using morphological and chemical approaches to study rock fulgurites, but this was the first time a rock fulgurite was classified from a mineralogical point of view," Elmi said. "I was able to adapt an approach that I've used before to study the effects of meteorite impact in rocks and sediments to analyze a tiny amount of material in order to understand the phase transitions that occur when a lightning hits a rock."

Elmi collaborated on the work with senior author Reto Giere, professor and chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, along with the department's Jiangzhi Chen, a postdoctoral researcher, and David Goldsby, an associate professor.

Their paper will be published in the journal American Mineralogist.

In a study published last year, Giere characterized a rock fulgurite found in southern France, finding that the lightning bolt that hit it transformed the layer of rock beneath the fulgurite on the atomic level, producing tell-tale structures called shock lamellae.

The team wanted to pursue a different line of study in the new work.

"In this case," Giere said, "we instead wanted to study the glass layer in more detail to find out what the minerals present could tell us about the temperature of lightning."

To do so, Elmi performed an X-ray diffraction analysis, which collects information about the way that X-rays interact with crystalline materials to infer the mineral content of a given sample. The challenge in this instance, however, was that a typical X-ray diffraction analysis requires roughly a gram of material, and the quantity of the 10-micrometer thick fulgurite was not nearly that substantial.

To adapt the technique for a smaller quantity of sample, Elmi put the material in a narrow, rotating capillary tube and adjusted the diffraction optics to align, concentrate and direct the X-ray beam toward the sample.

The analysis of the fulgurite revealed the presence of glass as well as cristobalite, a mineral with the same chemical composition of quartz but possessing a distinct crystal structure. Cristobalite only forms at very high temperature, and the glass indicated that the top layer of granite melted during the lightning strike. Elmi's analysis enabled her to quantify the glass and the residual minerals in a rock fulgurite for the first time.

"These two signatures indicate a system that received a shock of high temperature," Elmi said. "This analysis also indicates the minimal temperature you have to create the glass because cristobalite forms around 1,700 Celsius, so you know that this temperature was achieved when the lightning hit the rock."

The measured temperature of lightning in the air is in fact much higher - measured at around 30,000 degrees Celsius - but this analysis indicates that the rock itself was raised from ambient temperatures to at least 1,700 Celsius.

The team performed additional analyses on the fulgurite sample. They found organic material in the sample, indicating that the lightning burned lichen or moss growing on the surface of the rock and then trapped it inside the material.

"This is an extremely fast event," Giere said. "The rock heats up very quickly and also cools down very quickly. That traps gases in the glass and some of these gases were formed by the combustion of organic material."

In future studies, the team hopes to develop a complete model of what happens to rocks during a lightning strike, incorporating chemical, physical, biological and mineralogical observations. They note that people like Franklin who experience near-misses with lightning are lucky indeed.

"It's amazing that a bolt of lightning can turn granite molten and completely change its structure, yet some people survive lightning strikes," said Giere.

TECH SPACE
Russian scientists create new system of concrete building structures
Saint-Petersburg, Russia (SPX) May 03, 2017
Professor of the Institute of Civil Engineering of Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU) Andrey Ponomarev and a graduate student Alexander Rassokhin developed a new construction technology. Scientists created several types of building blocks based on nanostructured high-strength lightweight concrete, reinforced with skew-angular composite coarse grids. The develop ... read more

Related Links
University of Pennsylvania
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

TECH SPACE
AGU journal commentaries highlight importance of Earth and space science research

NASA spacesuits over budget, tight on timeline: audit

'Better you than me,' Trump tells record-breaking astronaut

Lunar, Martian Greenhouses Designed to Mimic Those on Earth

TECH SPACE
New Russian Medium-Class Carrier Rocket Could Compete With SpaceX's Falcon

RSC Energia, Boeing Hammer Out a Deal on Sea Launch Project

India seeks status as a major space power with more satellite launches

India to Launch Carrier Rocket With Higher Payload Capacity in May

TECH SPACE
How Old are Martian Gullies

Opportunity Nears 'Perseverance Valley'

Engineers investigate simple, no-bake recipe to make bricks on Mars

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

TECH SPACE
China's cargo spacecraft completes in-orbit refueling

China courts international coalition set up to promote space cooperation

Commentary: Innovation drives China's space exploration

Macao marks 2nd China Space Day with astronaut sharing space experience

TECH SPACE
ViaSat-2 Satellite to Launch on June 1

ESA boosting its Argentine link with deep space

Arianespace, Intelsat and SKY Perfect JSAT sign a new Launch Services Agreement, for Horizons 3e

Airbus and Intelsat team up for more capacity

TECH SPACE
Penn researchers quantify the changes that lightning inspires in rock

Russian scientists create new system of concrete building structures

New organic lasers one step closer to reality

First luminescent molecular system with a lower critical solution temperature

TECH SPACE
Research Center A Hub For Origins of Life Studies

ISS investigation aims to identify unknown microbes in space

'Iceball' Planet Discovered Through Microlensing

'On Verge of Most Profound Discovery Ever,' NASA Tells US Congress

TECH SPACE
ALMA investigates 'DeeDee,' a distant, dim member of our solar system

Nap Time for New Horizons

Hubble spots auroras on Uranus

Cold' Great Spot discovered on Jupiter




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement