Another way to cook rocks: in water!

Remember the blogpost where experiments were compared to cooking? Well, we can take that parallel even further and use more water to heat the rock with! As I mentioned in a previous post, rocks at the seafloor can get altered when fluids move through them. We call these hydrothermal systems, which can have spectacular venting sites on the seafloor. One way to find out more about the process behind these systems is studying natural examples that underwent hydrothermal fluid circulation; another way is by trying to reproduce these processes in the lab. But how can we do this when water is involved? Continue reading

Chimneys and smoke at the bottom of the sea: signs of a fire below!

One of the most spectacular features of geology (at least to me) are black smokers. They consist of hollow conduits where hot, nearly boiling fluids exit the oceanic crust. These fluids can be white or black since they carry particles from underlying rocks. The smoke may contain valuable metals such as nickel, arsenic, copper, silver and even gold! On top of this, in the conduits or next to the chimneys, the most amazing and strange life forms can be found. All the more reason to explore what is going on there, and where we could expect systems like these to occur! Continue reading

What is on the inside?

A lemon tree
A lemon tree

When you see a beautiful lemon tree, you might start thinking about holiday. You’ll want to take a lemon from it, slice it up and add it to a nice meal or drink. But have you ever taken a good look at the inside of a lemon? Before you slice it, you do not know where the seeds are, or how thick the skin is. Imagine that you could look inside without slicing! What would it look like?

This might seem a strange question. Why would anybody like to know that? You can slice it up whenever you want! However, in some cases it can be important to look inside something without slicing. Think about a hospital scan to examine your bones. How convenient that they can look at them without an operation! In geology, we have a similar view. Sometimes, we want or need to look at the inside of a rock without disturbing its inner texture by cutting it. So how can we do this? Continue reading