Eruptions


Serpentine (as known as serpentinite), the current (and potentially soon-to-be ex-) state rock of California.

This does not have a direct connection to volcanoes, but it sure is about geology and the science in the news. State Senator Gloria Romero of California has sponsored a bill to change the California state rock from serpentine because, as she claims:

“[Serpentine] contains the deadly mineral chrysotile asbestos, a known carcinogen, exposure to which increases the risk of the cancer mesothelioma … California should not designate a rock known to be toxic to the health of its residents as the state’s official rock.”

For one, asbestos is not a mineral – neither is serpentine (thus its place as “state rock”). Serpentine is a group of minerals, one of which is chrysotile, the most common component in the industrial material known as asbestos. Chrysotile is a mineral, part of the sheet silicate minerals. It can form crystals as thin fibers – known as asbestiform – that, if inhaled, can get lodged in the lungs. Asbestiform minerals are very good insulators, so it was used as an insulator on pipes and walls, along with being used for tiles, both inside and out (heck, my house has asbestos tiling). The asbestiform crocidolite is what is most carcinogenic – and it is exceedingly rare in terms of the overall use of asbestos in building (< 4%) - and is only dangerous when the asbestos is disturbed and can be inhaled.

This is not to say that you should play with asbestos materials loose-and-fancy-free – and this is not to belittle people who have had the misfortune to run into the deadlier forms of asbestos. However, much of the asbestiform minerals in the world is close to harmless, but we have been convinced that any contact with asbestos is deadly (mining asbestos, on the other hand, is very dangerous.) However, to lump all serpentine in with the exceedingly rare form that is carcinogenic is downright wrong – not only is it misleading about the true nature of the asbestos problem, but it is also not backed in science. Serpentine is a group of minerals that rarely forms crocidolite, which if inhaled, can be carcinogenic, yet Sen. Romero deems it necessary, with the problems facing California, to single out this “problem” to be solved. The California state flag has the Grizzly Bear and grizzlies have killed many people – should they change that, too?

Serpentine is an important symbol of California mineralogical riches, along with a large portion of the geologic underpinnings of parts of the state. It deserves to keep its place as the state rock and Sen. Romero should stop using ill-founded use of science to forward her own image in the media.

Comments

  1. #1 Henrik, Swe
    July 6, 2010

    Well said that man!

  2. #2 Carl
    July 6, 2010

    Truly humbling moment!
    I think myself to be a fairly educated man with a ph.d. and after a lot of subjects taken at university level. And still I was entirely on the “Asbestos the bad”-bandwaggoon untill I read this.
    What bugs me is that I should have known better, but it is easy in hind-sight.
    Thank you Erik for clearifying in this great way when, why and how this familly of minerals is dangerous and not!

  3. #3 Carl
    July 6, 2010

    Megacaldera at Azores:

    Thanks to Bruce Stout!

    Bruce got me looking down the MAR for other places where there could be a vortex forming place (remember, it is just an idea of mine, not a true scientific model) and we run up onto the Azores that looked like a likely candidate with at least some features looking like Iceland. Be that as it may for now.

    When looking at the subsurface features at Google Earth we found a large alsmost circular object partially under the surface. The size is 100 by 70 kilometres and is ringed by a “wall” containing Sao Miguel in the north, Sao Maria in the south and in the east you find the Formigas Banks with the Formigas Islets.
    Bruce inital take was that it was an impact crater, but after reading up I have to bump of that idea.

    The Caldera/Crater like thing is built up of the same type of volcanic lava mixture, giving it similar origin. That lava is about 4 million years old. So here we have four different possibilities.
    1. Crater, even though the likelyhood of a massive volcanic feature would be hit with a meteor is low it could happen. But not here. Why? Becase it is covered with sedimentary rock material that is 4-6 million years old. If you have a meteor hit of that size the sedimentary stuff would have been blown away, or heavilly mixed with lava material. Pretty much bumps of the idea of the meteor/caldera.
    2. Caldera after a Thera/Santorini and Krakatoa like explosion. That would really have been something wouldn’t it? We would have been talking of an explosion 1000 times larger than Krakatoa, a VEI-XXL or something. But those pesky sediments puts an end to that.
    3. Magma-chamber collaps. Your average garden super volcano happening. Problem with that is that when that happens you get massive ash-falls and eruptions happening. Out-ruled by the sediments again.
    4. Vortex-plume dying off or moving. (My live-in partner who is a really anal retentative scientist tells me that I have vorticiis on my head, she is probably right.)
    As the underlying vortex-plume died off due to it’s driving conditions changing (probably getting to far from the MAR) the force pushing the crust above disapeared and the entire surface directly above the now former vortex-plume sank down leaving the caldera. Remember that this would be a “cold” caldera forming event without forces to form eruption and large ash-explosions. So the sediments would be left largely intact. Somewhere around that a new vortex-plume formed to the north-west. Same as will happen or is happening now in Iceland.

    Another more boring explanation might be that it is just simply a feature of the new sea-bottom flexing a bit.

    By the way, something with Sao Miguel really scares me. The power seems to be way to large there for my comfort. If you look at the Google Earth you will see spoke-wheel like features radiating out from the Island in south-west to north-westerly direction, four of them are clearly visible as laser-straight depressions on the sea-floor and three of them are going straight under the rest of the Azores Islands. It is especially clear unde Sao Jorgé island, it has this really nice line-like shape as it straddles it’s rupture.
    The force under Sao Miguel is so large that it actually seems to be creating it’s own tectonics and crust rupturing, and that can only be created with vast and swift uplifting under the island. An analogy would be if you shoot a bullet through a bullet-proof hardened window pane. If you after shooting the poor window take a look at it you will see that on the other side there is a dent and the same spokelike wheel pattern.

    Whatever is causing that massive uplift has a lot of power. You know what I guess at by now…

  4. #4 Koen v G
    July 6, 2010

    Next on the list of Senator Romero to ban:
    - Water: proven to be deadly when inhaled, sufficiently consumed or injected. Known green house gas.
    - Oxygen: deadly when inhaled pure at sufficient pressure. Very oxidizing.
    - Nitrogen: deadly when inhaled pure.
    - All other rocks and minerals: deadly when inhaled in sufficient amounts.
    - Fire: deadly when inhaled.
    - Electricity: deadly when inappropriately handled.
    - Gravity: deadly when disregarded.

    California: Regulating itself back into the Stone Age and beyond…

  5. #5 bruce stout
    July 6, 2010

    Carl, this paper could be interesting:

    w3.ualg.pt/~jluis/artigos/nuno_mgr.pdf

    I’d be wary about the spoke lines. These could be similar artifacts to the ones I was talking about crossing the Kermadec Trough. When I first saw them I was like huh? how could anything create a straight line across one of the most active plate margins on Earth without getting distorted in the process? A professor then pointed out to me it is probably just a result of the way the bathymetric data is gathered (ships moving in straight lines and all that)

  6. #6 bruce stout
    July 6, 2010

    and because there is nothing better than idle theorizing to distract me from my real work:

    Carl, could you explain again how a vortex would create the needed pressure differentials to move the tetramega (yes I just made up the term, I hope it sticks ;-)) tons of rock involved in your theory?

    I can happily concede there may be some Coriolis effect at play in rising plumes of solid rock if you have a long enough time scale but I don’t get how a vortex that rotates sooooooo slowly could produce the low pressure at its center needed to suck up such a weight.

  7. #7 birdseye USA
    July 6, 2010

    So Erik, should we all just forward your introduction to today’s blog to Sen. Romero’s office with our own (international, identify your country) plea for scientific/geologic truth-telling?? ; )

  8. #8 pyromancer76
    July 6, 2010

    Erik, thanks for this post. Garry Hayes at http://geotripper.blogspot.com/ has followed this issue in some detail. Read his research and you find a group of lawyers, pseudo-environmentalists, pseudo-labor people, and a bunch of other marxists masquerading as concerned patriotic citizens (the poor children) who are paying for this scam. Carl #2 suggested the problem most clearly: “I think myself to be a fairly educated man with a ph.d. and after a lot of subjects taken at university level and still I was entirely on the ‘Astestos the bad’ bandwagon until I read this.” Carl describes “faith” not “reason” because of The Way he was taught many subjects. Anything corporate American has been taught as ipso facto evil. Citizens cannot think straight and sort out the problems and determine the pollution for clean-up from the necessary development. (The Earth changes catastrophically from time to time, but let a corporation disturb one stone — especially an American-linked corporation or business — and it is the end of the world.)

    I hope scientifically trained people will be in the forefront of putting a stop to these scams — including one of the worst “anthropogenic global warming” aka evil CO2. By all means send these articles to every California state senator and representative. Hope they hang their heads in shame — but too many of them are on the take.

  9. #9 Dan Milton
    July 6, 2010

    Serpentine is, as you say, a group of minerals, but it is also, as you say it is not, a rock.

    The ambiguity bothered enough people that the rock has come to be called “serpentinite”, but I’m old-fashioned enough to keep with “serpentine”.

  10. #10 dave
    July 6, 2010

    For a absolutely great website, look at DHMO.org, describing the great evil of dihydrogen monoxide (H2O). A great laugh on a similar vein.

  11. #11 GT McCoy
    July 6, 2010

    The real danger is politicians have waay too much time on their hands too cook up useless legislation.
    This reminds me of a woman that I knew back in College who
    was a vehement Anti-Nuke, yet she had several large blocks
    of Granite in her Garden and a very lovey chunk of Cinnabar.
    as part of her garden rocks.

  12. #12 Walter
    July 6, 2010

    @ dave #11
    really great site.

  13. #13 Maria
    July 6, 2010

    Oh my. Does this gal not have more important things to do with her hard earned taxpayer cash?

    I hear that California has a few other minor issues it needs solving. Issues that are truly important and much more potentially dangerous to it’s citizenry. Like say, crime, unemployment, bankruptcy, water shortages, pollution, earthquakes and politicians with way too much time on their hands and poor impulse control. Parasites, the lot of them.

  14. #14 doug mcl
    July 6, 2010

    how many remember CA’s proposition 13, which demonstrated that pandering to tax-cut fans in guarded communities was a quicker route to political power than the harder job of governing responsibly?

  15. #15 Passerby
    July 6, 2010

    Since today’s geology definition term is ‘serpentine’, we need to know more about it before we can pontificate on this matter.

    The UC-Davis Reserve system owns and managed 36 natural reserve properties. This land acquisitions program started in the 1950s, in response to rapid population growth, with loss of natural terrestrial and aquatic habitat that was suitable for research.

    The UC-Davis campus managed 5 of these sites, including the McLaughlin Reserve, a location dedicated to All Things Serpentine.

    nrs.ucdavis.edu/McL/index.html

    Lovely webpage on the serpentine geology of the McLaughlin Reserve:
    nrs.ucdavis.edu/McL/natural/geology/index.html

    Serpentine rock ecology is quite interesting. The presence of high concentrations of magnesium, low levels of nitrogen, and absence of sufficient calcium in these iron- and heavy metal rich (chromium, nickel, etc) soils deters most plants from colonizing serpentine soils.

    Consequently, serpentine rock areas tend to be barren of typical area species, but may be sparsely populated by specially-adapted plants, termed ‘serpentine syndrome’. Beyond an ability to tolerate mineral deficiency and heavy metal toxicity, these plants are also drought-tolerant.

    fs.fed.us/wildflowers/communities/serpentines/adaptations.shtml

    From the Reserve soils map, you can see that Serpentine Rock and a serpentine-derived soil (Hennecke and Montara series soils) predominate:
    nrs.ucdavis.edu/McL/maps/soils.html

    The UC-Davis soil science group discusses these soils, see the bottom third of the page, that starts with ‘serpentine soils’ from their Hopeland REC webpage
    nrs.ucdavis.edu/McL/maps/soils.html

    The western US Coastal Range geology has yielded vast quantities of mineral wealth for California, but it also provides interesting insight into the diverse ecology of this mineral-rich coastal mountain region.

    The income-strapped UC-Davis geology and ecology scientists would be well to request ‘face time’, to brief the State Congress on the natural wonders of serpentine rock ecology niches, if and when the state legislature meets to deliberate the proposed bill, the subject of our blog entry today.

    Now you know “the rest of the story”.

  16. #16 Peter Ogden-Smith
    July 6, 2010

    Perhaps the choosers of serpentine as the state rock for California were thinking of SW Britain when they chose it. Some of the incomers to early California came from Cornwall.
    See:- http://www.thelizard.info
    Just an idea – but probably not!

  17. #17 parclair, NoCal USA
    July 6, 2010

    I’ve just been reading “Assembling California” and McPhee suggests that serpentine was named the state whatever because serpentine lead the 49er’s to the gold. Where the blue serpentine was, there was the gold.

    I suspect my state legislators will once again make all Cal locals look like fools. (And maybe we are. We continue to elect bozos)

  18. #18 mjkbk
    July 6, 2010

    When I first read about this in the L.A. Times a few weeks back, I appended a comment that New Hampshire likewise will need to eliminate its nickname, The Granite State. Because granite is a major source of radon gas, right? It’s a KILLER that no self-respecting state should have as its nickname. In fact, California had better close Yosemite NOW, before any unsuspecting tourists DIE.

    Oh brother. How did this babe get elected? And her supporters? What planet are THEY from?

  19. #19 Lurking
    July 6, 2010

    Why, they are all from the Great State of Confusion…

    Meanwhile, Grímsvötn Area up close. I had largely ignored it, but did note that there area three “quake stacks” there. Never mind the pseudo Fibonacci spacing of them. I’m thinking that this layout/organizational structure may have to do with individual slabs stacked next to each other as then were upended. I forgot the word that was used for it in the paper talking about the possible underlying chunk of oceanic crust.

    http://i48.tinypic.com/a9myco.png

  20. #20 Passerby
    July 6, 2010

    The bill passed the CA state legislature on June 25th.
    http://www.braytonlaw.com/news/legalnews/062510_drop_the_rock_campaign.htm

    According to the State Geologist, serpentine was chosen as the state rock (mineral) to acknowledge and support the burgeoning mineral insulator industry.

  21. #21 Lurking
    July 6, 2010

    It would be interesting to know when it was chosen as the state rock… that would go a long way towards B/S detection on the part of the State Geologist.

  22. #22 Passerby
    July 6, 2010

    ‘It received the state rock designation in 1965, as many saw it as an ideal representation of California’s mining progress. That progress helped launch the state on its path to developing the largest gross state product’

    http://www.dailytech.com/California+Looks+to+Shun+State+Rock+Over+Asbestos+Content/article18945.htm

    The real reason = Law$uits Are u$

    ‘The bill could aid in sending money to law firms and cleanup companies by offering a public shunning of serpentine….”blah, blah, blah” states Joseph Belluck, an attorney with Belluck & Fox LLP …’As the stone is heavily mined in California’s San Benito Mountains region, that could give legal firms ammo in their attacks on their claims against mining companies.’

    Legal shuck and jive.

  23. #23 M. Randolph Kruger
    July 6, 2010

    Uh-Ms. Romero. You could take any rock and drop it from a tall building and let it hit you in the head…. You just had an overdose of granite, shale, coal, feldspar, marble etc. and it kills. If you work enough of it, you can get enough iron to melt into steel. Then you can make guns, bombs, ammo and knives.

    Teacher-Leave them rocks alone !

    Dont they have enough problems in the State of California with their budget? Just changing the states school books to get the rock changed because of that would cost millions of dollars.

    What did they say to Gump…Run Forrest, run !

    I wonder who the village idiots really are.

    burp

  24. #24 Fireman
    July 6, 2010

    California. The state that banned .50 calibre rifles, amid great fanfare and politicians posturing about evil and dangerous weapons. .50 cal rifles have, to my certain knowledge, NEVER been proven to have been used to commit any crime whatsoever. I rest my case.

  25. #25 Lurking
    July 6, 2010

    @Fireman[24]

    Correct me if I’m wrong…. but wouldn’t the required mass of the weapon sort of make it impractical to use in an armed robbery? I also imagine that a “snub nosed” pistol version would require considerable hand and wrist strength… so much so that it would be easier to just reach over and snatch the arm off of your victim… rough calculations put the round at somewhere between 185.3 to 211.4 kJ upon firing. For comparison, the 140 grain charge of 40 cal ACP is about 41.9 kJ.

  26. #26 Passerby
    July 6, 2010

    >o my certain knowledge, NEVER been proven to have been used to commit any crime whatsoever. I rest my case.

    http://www.vpc.org/snipercrime.htm

    Do not pass ‘Go’, do not collect 200 points, and you should reconsider testifing as an expert witness in firearms use.

  27. #27 Fireman
    July 7, 2010

    @ Passerby, the VPC themselves admit to being “the most aggressive group in the gun control movement” – I’ll take anything they say with a very large pinch of salt. And I note that, even then, 90% plus of what they claim to come up with is ‘criminals being found with guns’ NOT ’50 cals being used to commit crimes’. And I STILL don’t see anything to counter my assertion there; Californian politicians banned the ONLY type of guns that have never been used to commit a crime. Logical?

  28. #28 George
    July 7, 2010

    “The real danger is politicians have waay too much time on their hands too cook up useless legislation.”

    And never enough time to pass a budget.

  29. #29 fhsiv
    July 7, 2010

    Wow, what an idiot! But, I guess she’s par for the course!

    It must not be politically correct to allow a benign type of rock that is widely distributed in parts of the state to be associated with the foolery which is perpetrated daily in Saca-crapo.

    After all, we must demonize the raw material that sometimes contains asbestiform mineral phases which can be industrially processed into a product which has adverse human health effects!

    What’s worse, Ms. Romero’s ignorance or that of those who elected her?

  30. #30 Carl
    July 7, 2010

    @8:
    Pyromancer, I think you over-interpreted what I wrote a little bit.
    It didn’t really have anything to do with how I was thought at the universities I attended, what I ment was that I fooled myself when I should actually have been using the critical tools that I have been thought by numerous professors during the years, but did not. That was the humbling experience for me.

    Hm, “The Global Warming”-scam is sadly enough a real thing though, what bugs me with that is that the quite single-minded politicians have gotten hooked on “one” of the gases causing it, ie CO2. In reallity methane is a heck of a lot worse.

    I think blaming my misunderstanding of the minerals causing asbestos on the american companies, american comunism, and the lack of american schooling might be to bite yourself in the foot.
    I’m first of all european with european degrees, even worse for you is that I am a swede so I guess I am a genetical comunist to you. I have though sold a company to an american company once. And the only thing I have had to do with american schools is that I taught at one of your rural universities, but the coffee was so bad around Harvard Park that I quit and moved back home where we have real coffee (Although I could get real coffee from IKEA).

  31. #31 Carl
    July 7, 2010

    @Fireman:
    Personally I think the .50 is a bit of a to small calibre to be really effective when robbing a bank. I myself would go for the Holland & Holland .600 Nitro Express (elephant gun) if I would rob a bank. How would one otherwise be sure to shoot through armoured glass?

    When I saw this revolver I just had to have it.
    http://www.pfeifer-waffen.at/cms/html/index.php?module=htmlpages&func=display&pid=32

    Good that the state of California have started to ban weak calibres.

  32. #32 Carl
    July 7, 2010

    @6:
    Bruce, I have to go back a bit to explain.
    The starting factor is the plate tectonics.
    In the first phaze you would have a fairly straight upwelling as the plates rip apart, but from second one it would due to coriolis effect start to move in a circular motion, and over time you would get a vortex. As time progresses it would start to go deeper and deeper. Something which I actually have a problem seeing happening at all with a straight upwelling since that would suck equally well in all directions. Thing is that when it has reached far enough it would start to act like a standard plume, ie it would get energy from the mantle/core boundary when it has reached that deep.

    Your “tetramega” of rock, or energy potential as I would call it;) is accumulated over geological time.
    If we say that we have a vortex revolving at 10cm per year it would of itself suck up 2,5cm per year in height. That gives an area of (Pi X r2), and that would for the Grimsvötn to Askja vortex be an area of 3969 square kilometres. The amount sucked up yearly would be 1,2 square kilometres due to pure vortex-plume effects. And that doesn’t sound much. And that is measuring up quite well to good old measured data.

    Just one small pesky thing… Bardarbunga is getting pushed up with 5 to 10cm per year. Rand phenomena:)

    So yes, I fully grown vortex that connects like a plume to the mantle/core boundary would move tetramegas of energy potential.

    Back to the spoke-wheel at the Azores, I looked at the Admiralty charts for the area, they are there.
    When I looked at these and the better ones I have on my navigation system for the boat I noticed that the caldera between Sao Miguel/Formigas/Sao Maria actually are 2 large calderas with not less then 3 underwater stratovolcanos clearly visible on the northen calderarim.

  33. #33 Dennis
    July 7, 2010

    so.. about the “vortex”,

    allot of this materials down there is magnetic charged, some more some less, we don’t know because we had never the chance to measure even pressure, temp, flow, magnetic charged, even the rate/influence of the earth magnetic field (its a big one) could be “higher” then we think, dunno.

    But we have seen a “vortex” sunspot, its also a new phenomena of magnetic flow (isn’t it ?), so this could happen similar down there? on a small scale? everything is working a little bit similar in nature (tornadoes (wind flow) now the sunvortex (magnetic flow) (spaceweather.com/submissions/pics/p/Pete-Lawrence-2010-07-04_11-42-03_SF70ds_1278264351.jpg) News 7-2-10 are also beautiful pic’s.

    So when our magnetic field, is under pressure of solar wind, its getting pushed in various directions, that “could also” change the flow of the “inner” field lines (or really only the outer once like we can “see” it, up to which scale is this influence), this change of the flow, with the normal direction, and the “charged direction” of the martial + changing pressure because of changing field lines distance “?”
    (youtube.com/watch?v=kdomJQvxPZE just a magnetic field)
    sorry havnt found a video show a 2nd force influencing a field just like www2.nict.go.jp/y/y223/simulation/realtime/ you can see it behind the earth that the layers are stretched, thats pressure change beweteen the lines (speed change?),
    so is or is not the nearest/nearer filed lines to the center “influenced” ?, on a low scale of course but is it or not ?
    The solar wind hitting earth is “transmitted” from the outer layers to the poles causing the aurora because it hits the atmosphere,
    now the question is all “energy released producing the aurora or is there still energy entering the system”, dunno
    “Passerby”, is there any “timing” between quakes in the north and south facing the sun, to that moment, or is the fact night/day time 50/50? when i think about its oven that the people are getting trapped at night, just a guess could even be the other way around.

    What give the tornado the kick to go? does a terrible “nearly” tornado “always” need a “kick” that starts it or will it “not” form when it doesn’t get the right conditions?
    is there a point of “no-return”, where pressure builds up, that its just a matter of time that this energy has to release.
    So dream about a simulation i create a storm so big that it has the best potential to get a tornado and its just a split thats missing to form it, is it always possible that it will not form ?why?

  34. #34 Henrik, Swe
    July 7, 2010

    Firman (#27), Carl (# 30)

    In 1994 (1995?) I had the pleasure of introducing Jerry Pournelle (yes, the Jerry Pournelle of Boeing Spacelab (Apollo) and SF fame) to the Carl Gustaf 84 mm recoilless anti-tank gun and in the process spent a most enjoyable day in his company with the regimental doctor, a personal friend of Dr Pournelle’s, as the only other person. In the course of that day Dr Pournelle gave me a run-down on Californian politics in the wake of the LA riots as evidenced by his own community. His neighbours, all Democrat bleedin-hearts according to Dr Pournelle, were unanimous of their condemnation of the use of unneccessary violence by police. Then, when the riots spread and their own community was no longer a safe haven, they had a town meeting and decided to “secure the perimeter”. Towards that end Dr Pournelle was approached as he had a large collection of guns, neccessary for arming the peacekeepers. Then roadblocks were set up and, according to Dr Pournelle, anyone not firmly WASP was turned back at gunpoint, no exception, by these peaceloving egalitarians for the duration.

    Oh, and if I were to rob a bank I’d give the CG 46 some serious thought – 350 mm guaranteed penetration of armour. xD

  35. #35 Carl
    July 7, 2010

    The CG is a bit on the low side to take out a bank-vault, and you actually have to be around the bank.
    The thing to do is of course to hire some dim-whitted goons to be close to the bank to carry off the haul. Then you just sit quietly 60 kilometres away and fire of your Archer-system. With the gps-guided Excalibur granade you can pop any bank wide open:)
    Here’s an image of the beauty:
    http://www.army-technology.com/projects/archerhowitzer/archerhowitzer2.html

    Since our american friends seems to need better guns to protect themselves they should really look into arming their walled-up communities with this system so they can feel safe.
    I think I will stick with our swedish attitude of being armed to the teeth and being to lazy to use them.
    Strange that we have twice the amount of guns per capita compared to the americans when one thinks about it…

  36. #36 bruce stout
    July 7, 2010

    @ Carl,

    interesting stuff. I still can’t quite envisage it though.

    First thing, coupling/decoupling.
    Do you think a plume would be coupled or decoupled to the surrounding mantle or is the question moot? Why I ask is that if a plume started to spin I assume it would have low rotational velocity at the edges and high velocity (relatively, we are still talking about solid, well plastic, rock here) at the center. If coupled, there would be an amazing amount of strain at molecular level. Wouldn’t this effectively brake the vortex, preventing it from even forming in the first place? OTOH, if there is some kind of decoupling involved, what form would this take?

    BTW I guess this problem is also an issue in the standard plume model anyway, i.e. there must be currents in the mantle where the buoyancy is strong enough to overide the friction

    The second issue is then also coupling/decoupling between mantle and crust. If the crust were sitting on a vortex of twisted mantle, you would expect some kind of surface expression of that twisting, wouldn’t you? or is the expression the formation of magma itself, which effectively lubricates (decouples) mantle and crust?

    All that said, I still feel attracted by your idea for some reason. I just have trouble seeing how it would work.

    Re the calderas.. funny there is no mention of them in that paper I referenced to yesterday and it is a pretty detailed analysis of the morphology of the Azores. They certainly “look” like calderas in Google Earth but I am pretty confident a structure that massive would not go unnoticed.

    Not that I’d be unhappy to have discovered a caldera, mind you: “what did you do today, dear? Oh nothing much, just discovered a ruddy great 110km x 70 km hole in the earth nobody had seen before.. lol :-))

    PS also please forgive my typo.. I meant to type terramega not tetramega, which sounds like a huge box of milk. óò

  37. #37 Carl
    July 7, 2010

    @Bruce:

    As you know there are 2 types of general vortexes, the “free irrotational vortex” Where you have relatively different speeds in the outer and the inner parts. The actual speed is still 10cm, but since the distance grows shorter the closer you come to the center the amount of turns per time period would be increasingly greater.
    I am not sure that there would a large molecular strain here since we are talking about fairly viscous semi-solid “rhyolitic mush” or molten lava. (I accidentally had a beer can to long in the fridge on friday evening, when I poured it I got this mushy thing with ice-chrystals in fluid, ie. “slush”. I guess that would be a good semblance to Eriks rhyolitic mush.)

    But the form of vortex I was thinking about was the forced rotational vortex. In those the outer and the inner parts make the same number of turns during a time period. Ie, the outer parts move faster than the inner parts.
    So when I had “slushed” beer aquivalent of rhyolitic mush around I ran into the kitchen to get a spoon. After stirring the beerslush I got a nice forced rotational vortex. A little while later when it had melted it instead created a free irrotational vortex.

    So the answer would probably be that if the material is molten magma then you have a free irrotational vortex, but if it is mainly rhyolitic mush it would be a forced rotational vortex.

    Sadly the beer was flat after slushing and stirring it so I had to go to the pub to celebrate my semi-sober physics experimentation. What hardships one has to endure for science.

    If I understood you about the decoupling between mantle and crust this would be the answer. The decoupling would be the actual release of magma into the areas that opens up when the plates are ripped apart. Ie, volcanos would be the visible part of the phenomenon.

    And you wouldn’t normally see a vortex on the surface since it is largely covered by a plate, but I guess there is a theoretical chance of a circular part ripping free and starting to circulate ontop of the vortex… But I guess the probability of that is very low, although that is exactly what gave me the idea.
    Here is a picture of the Prästholmen ice-disc spinning on the Prästholmen river vortex that gave me the idea to beginn. One of the strange wonders of the world. In the summer you can sit in a boat going round for quite some time fishing there. Google-translate at your own risk…
    http://www.kuriren.nu/nyheter/artikel.aspx?articleid=3164609

    I would be surprised if nobody hadn’t discovered the caldera before, I just guess we missed that article. But if not it would be nice:)

  38. #38 bruce stout
    July 7, 2010

    ah… this is where the theory falls down for the mantle is not mush but solid. I thought you were postulating a spin (a very slooooow spin) in uprising mantle (solid) plumes.

    Mind you, the thought of fishing for all eternity is kind of appealing.

  39. #39 Richard Raburn
    July 7, 2010

    California fad driven pseudo science is the bane of
    modern society. Let us focus on the chief offense: their
    decades long crusade to ban particulates and aerosols
    from our air while leaving greenhouse gas unregulated
    entirely. By removing stuff that shades the earth while
    doing nothing about the real problem, they have considerably
    worsened the issue.
    It is refreshing to see a prominent idiot get called out.
    It should happen a lot more often.

  40. #40 JohnR
    July 7, 2010

    Post 16 re Cornwall and serpentine probably needs an extended link as the connection isn’t immediately obvious from the homepage – there’s just a small para there.

    Lizard serpentine link

    John

  41. #41 Passerby
    July 7, 2010

    >decades long crusade to ban particulates and aerosols
    from our air while leaving greenhouse gas unregulated
    entirely. By removing stuff that shades the earth while
    doing nothing about the real problem, they have considerably
    worsened the issue.

    Incorrect. Aerosols do not shade; what they do is effectively absorb and retain heat, keeping solar heat IN and warming the lower troposphere.

    The IPCC finally got wise and started to look more seriously at aerosol contribution, especially in light of record global monthly temperature averages in winter and spring of this year, despite the recent solar activity decline during the historic minimum.

    California has no choice in tightly regulating pollution emissions, as they are a major regional source and they also suffer from international pollution carryover from Asia.

    Washington, Oregon and British Columbia have similar large metro urban air shed air quality issues.

    It’s going to get worse, too. Australia is now Numero Uno global coal exporter. China and, increasingly, India feature as the Aussie coal exporters major customers.

    Australia is effectively translocating it’s potential pollution to the Northern Hemisphere. It’s ending up affecting the health of folks in the US and Canada.

    I hope the IPCC is listening.

  42. #42 stigger
    July 7, 2010

    #41: Data from Aura’s Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) available here http://eosweb.larc.nasa.gov/PRODOCS/tes/table_tes.html

  43. #43 Passerby
    July 7, 2010

    One other trivial detail: California DID try to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles, first through proposed legislation in 2002, and 2005 enforcement regulation promulgation which was challenged in court by the powerful auto industry lobby groups, and then tried again to obtain a USEPA waiver in 2006-2007. The regulatory standards revision action was denied in 2007; the Federal Agency was told to do so because the Bush administration wished to use 2007 Energy Bill as a basis for national regulation, an end-run around CAA standards revision.

    The Energy bill increased fuel economy standards and required use of renewable biofuels, but did not institute carbon emission standards nor require utilities to derive a portion of their electricity from renewable energy sources or reduce oil and gas subsidies so that money could be applied to renewable energy research and development.

    What is noteworthy here is that this was the first time in the history of the CAA that California’s request to institute more rigorous emission standards (waivers granted 40 times previously) was denied.

    In May 2009, responding to prolonged international and internal public pressure to further reduce adverse health effects from transportation pollution, the US Federal government adopted California’s green house gas emission standards under the Obama administration.

  44. #44 Diane N CA
    July 7, 2010

    I must say a bit about the CA legislature. They are a bunch of boneheads! It is the same kind of idiotic thinking that got the bill passed and signed to stop all dredging in CA rivers because of some sort of idea that it harms the river and the fish. What the jerks don’t realize is that one major storm can do more damage to any of the rivers than all of the dredgers put together for the last 50 years. Dredging actually helps the fish by stiring up food for them and places they like to hide in. It also get rid of any mercury that may be where the dredgers are because it stays in the sluice behind the dredge. Because of the Kurok tribe were so worried about their river and the salmon, they got a legislator not from their district to get the bill though. The Govenator unfortunately signed it. Part of it had to do with the fact that the Fish & Game department was supposed to do a study and didn’t do it. So now, the state is not getting the proven 65 million it gets from the prospecting businesses and manufacturers of prospecting equipment that are in CA in addition to the dredging permit fees. It has really helped the economy, you see. I could go on and on, but I don’t want to bore you further.

    There’s more than one reason they call it “The Left Coast”.

  45. #45 Diane N CA
    July 7, 2010

    BTW, I live near a serpentine fault zone that is half a mile wide. It makes some of the best roadbed material you can get, but because of the asbestos controversy, they have stopped using it for that or anything else for that matter.

    The blue stuff is pretty and the deep green is also pretty. It can be white, too, and very shiny. I have some of it on my property for decor and some of it has pyrite in it and that is neat to see, too.

  46. #46 Silver Fox
    July 9, 2010

    To follow the coverage of this issue in the entire Geoblogosphere see links at: Serpentine: A Group of Minerals, including excellent coverage by Geotripper and Lounge of the Lab Lemming.

  47. #47 Nishanta Rajakaruna
    July 10, 2010

    I am shocked at this attempt to de-throne serpentine as CA’s ‘state rock.’ My colleagues and I have dedicated our lives to study these rocks and the rich biological diversity found in habitats overlying these rocks. Most SERPENTINITE contains little to no asbestiform chrysotile and does not pose any significant health risk in its natural state. The fact that chrysotile presents adverse health effects as a reason for removing SERPENTINITE as state rock is as flawed as saying that the Ridge-nosed rattlesnake should be removed as the state reptile of AZ as it is poisonous to humans. The grizzly bear is hazardous to humans too so why is it the state animal? Because we killed it off? UV is clearly more harmful than exposure to SERPENTINITE which contains minimal amounts of chrysotile asbestos, not the tremolite asbestos, which is known to be harmful to health. Health risks, if any, depend on the asbestos type (chrysotile versus tremolite), exposure frequency, and exposure level. All three factors are very low in most SERPENTINITE landscapes around the world, particularly in CA. There are essentially no documented cases of anybody having developed mesothelioma from the casual chrysotile exposure received from naturally-occurring chrysotile found in SERPENTINITE in CA. I urge that SERPENTINITE remain in place as the State Rock. It is part of our natural heritage, one that has served CA well. Clearly, there is more to worry about these days than waste time de-throning a rock!

  48. #48 Terry Trent
    July 15, 2010

    I am a biologist and a research biochemist specializing in natural occurring (NOA) “asbestos” in California. The legislature is a day late (meaning decades late) and a dollar short (meaning, well more) and working on the complete wrong subject. ADAO is not intentionally misleading, but they as a group are misleading. Natural occurring forms of asbestos occur in all states in the ground from soft friable easily airborne to hard rock hard to blow up with dynamite. In California communities have lived on all forms of natural occurring Chrysotile “asbestos” for well over 200 years. Intensive studies of death certificates shows no excess lung cancer or any excess mesothelioma at Chrysotile sites at all. San Francisco is the most contaminated Chrysotile city on earth. Yet small communities in California who have lived on Tremolite asbestos deposits for only short periods, show large quantities of excess mesothelioma. Not just in humans but in animals too. Huge levels of death from a non serpentine NOA. This news regarding Tremolite was published in the newspapers, mostly front page news, in Sacramento for 8 years straight! What do the legislators do? Why they OK “asbestos” epidemics by refusing to address the problem, and they condemn the innocent serpentine rock without even realizing what they are doing. For those who don’t know, this exact same subject has nearly killed entire communities in the United States. Groups such as ADAO focusing on Chrysotile “asbestos” to the exclusion of the far more dangerous forms of “asbestos” have lead to the communities of Libby Montana and Jefferson Parish Louisiana having enormous non serpentine epidemics of human death. The legislators could actually do something useful here, but not while they are mislead by non scientists such as ADAO.

  49. #49 NJ
    July 15, 2010

    Yet small communities in California who have lived on Tremolite asbestos

    A small nit to pick here.

    The correct description is to refer to asbestiform tremolite, which emphasizes that the key characteristic is the asbestiform nature, not the mere fact of tremolite. Non-fibrous varieties of these minerals are no more a hazard than any other average chunk of rock.

    If the public/politicians begin to view any mineral that can be asbestiform as hazardous (regardless of habit) then we will see more cases like this, with the extreme result that any outcrop containing any appreciable amount of amphiboles could get the same treatment.

  50. #50 Terry Trent
    July 19, 2010

    Well, there are probably no dusts (gases or fumes) in California or anywhere else that can not cause human death. Many are carcinogenic. I agree that idiot legislators should not be told, since they most likely missed this information in the 5th grade!! What we are talking about with fibrous Tremolite (and of course fibrous Tremolite is asbestiform….see Stanton and Wagner and many et al)are massive potential carcinogins capable of causing human epidemics in the absence of occupational exposure scenarios. Bulk non fibrous Tremolite materials have never done this.

    Once that simple concept is realized, which is nearly impossible for almost everyone, then it is important to look at the roughly 80 natural occurring fibrous minerals to see what else is up. One of these fibrous materials, Erionite, does the same thing as fibrous Tremolite, only with much more gusto. Killing up to and over 50% of human populations that reside atop of it. The most carcinogenic form of Erionite ever animal tested?…why that fibrous form from Rome Oregon!!

    It has never been enough in our world to say that something is carcinogenic. We can’t even begin to worry about what is carcinogenic! Most of what we encounter in life is carcinogenic with a mild expression of disease amongst various human populations. One always need to know “How Carcinogenic??”. Chrysotile containing Serpentine is almost nill and actually is nill statistically. Fibrous Tremolite causes human epidemics easily discoverable. The deaths jump right out at the casual investigator. Erionite causes human catastrophes, for which we are not ready. Demoting serpentine is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard of.
    TTrent

  51. #51 Nishanta Rajakaruna
    July 22, 2010

    Please write to your governor, senators, and assembly persons. The governor has until September 30 to veto this bill so we need to get the word out.

    Here is a link with all the necessary contacts:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2010/07/18/calling-on-californians-west-coast-represent/

    Thanks!

  52. #52 ahmad khawaja
    November 10, 2010

    A leopard cannot change its spots

  53. #53 Hot Tranny
    November 22, 2010

    The kind of folks purchase a short term cash advance? Can it be those who will need money in a crisis? Well, this might be what the majority of people think. Hot Tranny

  54. #54 ranking
    December 9, 2010

    I love the way you sound so passionate about what you are writing. Keep up the great work!