Lightning Bolt Deposits a Strange Mineral Never Seen on Earth Before

A interesting sort of phosphorus material that we haven't seen previously on Earth was created by a lightning strike that hit a tree on Florida's west coast. This material may represent a whole new mineral group that bridges the gap between space minerals and minerals found on Earth.

The substance, which closely resembles calcium phosphite (CaHPO3), was discovered within a fulgurite, a "metal glob" created by the interaction between the lightning bolt's extremely high temperatures and the sand around its target.

Lightning frequently strikes particular kinds of sand, silica, and rock, causing the formation of these "fossilized lightning" fulgurites. Seeing anything so special concealed inside one of these buildings is significantly less typical.

According to geoscientist Matthew Pasek of the University of South Florida, "We have never seen this substance exist naturally on Earth. Minerals comparable to it may be found in meteorites and space, but we've never seen this precise material elsewhere."

The researchers found that the iron that had accumulated around the tree's roots as well as the carbon in the tree that was struck by lightning both burned. The phosphorus cycle, or the flow of this chemical element through Earth, may be significantly impacted by this type of calcium phosphite, which may potentially develop in other high-energy settings.

The fact that attempts to recreate this CaHPO3 in the lab were unsuccessful demonstrates the fact that the unusual mineral can only be created under extremely certain circumstances. To see it again, we might have to wait for another lightning strike.

The results may have implications for the earliest times in the history of our planet, in addition to having an impact on the phosphorus cycle now. The cycle of phosphites is not entirely understood by scientists, but it is likely that these kinds of lightning strikes and chemical reactions occurred frequently.

According to previous studies, lightning-induced phosphate reduction was a common occurrence on the early Earth, according to geoscientist Tian Feng of the University of South Florida.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to repair these solid phosphite minerals due to a problem with the Earth's ambient phosphite reserve.

This "problem" implies that we are unable to adequately explain some phosphite-driven biological and chemical processes that we are aware of, but which should depend on yet-to-be-found phosphite reserves.

Scientists may learn more about how phosphorus is reduced - or changed into other states via chemical processes via the gaining of electrons - at various temperature levels thanks to the discovery of this novel phosphorus substance.

Also, the research sheds more light on the characteristics of lightning itself, including its strength and shape. That is by no means the first time that this extraordinary phenomenon has given rise to materials of particular scientific interest.

It's crucial to comprehend the energy that lightning possesses since only then can we determine the typical amount of harm and risk that a lightning strike poses.

"Florida is the world's lightning capital, and lightning safety is crucial because if lightning is powerful enough to burn rock, it can undoubtedly also melt humans"

The research has been published in Communications Earth & Environment.