Scientists have just discovered a brand new mineral created by lightning, the first of its kind ever found in nature! It was found deep in the desert in Arizona, and is made up of an array of exotic elements and molecules.
Yes, it was caused by lightning. How did it happen? It was found by some locals in New Port Richey, Florida. It’s a fulgurite. It appeared after a lightning strike on a tree. It was not just any find: it was the new mineral produced by lightning.
It was sold to a professor at the University of South Florida. He discovered that the impact seems to have led to something unexpected. It is the formation of a new type of phosphorus material on our planet.
“We have never seen this material occur naturally on Earth. Similar minerals can be found in meteorites and in space.” Matthew Pasek, a geophysicist at the University of South Florida, pointed out.
The new colorful, crystalline element is a type of calcium phosphite. According to its chemical properties it is CaHPO3. This element was found for the first time in its solid state on Earth. And it has the appearance of a metamorphic rock.
Fulgurites consist mainly of iron silicides. These are formed by chemical reaction after a lightning strike on the surface. They fuse sand and carbon present in the root of a tree. The researcher also explained that something else happens in places with humid climates. This is the case of the city of Florida. There, iron often agglomerates and becomes embedded in the roots of trees.
“When a discharge falls on a tree, the ground usually explodes. The surrounding grass dies, forming a scar. Consequently, electricity travels through the rock, soil and nearby sand. And ‘fossilized lightning’ is formed,” Pasek detailed.
This study examines how high-energy events can cause unique chemical reactions. Take, for example, the new mineral produced by a lightning strike. It lies somewhere between space minerals and terrestrial minerals. Because of this, they could tell us a lot about the development of life on Earth.