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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Scientists have a new explanation for the mysterious sand spikes

In a study published last month in Nature Communications, Dr. Buchner and his collaborators came up with a recipe for sand spikes. The ingredients required include powerful shaking, loose sand, water, and calcite, which acts as glue, the researchers suggest.

The researchers hypothesize that the process begins when the fastest moving seismic waves, or primary waves, pass through the sand and compress it. According to Dr. Buchner, this throws most, but not all, of the moisture from the inside to the surface. “The precipitation is mostly dry, but there are still a few areas of water.”

After a few seconds, slower seismic waves, called secondary waves, run through the sand again. These waves cause a sharp increase in pressure, causing the remaining reservoirs of water to quickly heat up and then explosively evaporate. Each explosion rips out a hollow structure from which a tail grows, pointing away from the source of pressure. The surrounding sand quickly flows back into the void and calcite, the main mineral in limestone, cements the structure.

The researchers speculate that the sand spikes are likely to form in seconds. “This is unlike most other geologic structures,” said Franek Hasyuk, a geologist at the Kansas Geological Survey who was not involved in the study. “Many of our rocks take millions to tens of millions of years to form. It happens in the blink of an eye. “

Apart from Germany and California, sand spikes have only been seen in a few other locations. Dr. Buchner and his colleagues suggest that, given their relative rarity, a particularly strong earth shaking is required for their formation.

Because sand spikes are markers of intense, potentially destructive earthquakes, they are valuable indicators of hazardous conditions, according to Dr. Hasyuk. It would be a bad idea to build a school or nuclear power plant where sandy ridges have been found, he said.

“Understanding ancient seismicity can really help us plan our infrastructure more intelligently.”

World Nation News Desk
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