Earthquakes are alchemists that can turn water into gold according to a new study! Sounds like a hoax right? It isn’t apparently. Let’s find out what gives earthquakes the Midas touch.
Two Australian scientists, Dion Weatherley and Richard W. Henley led the study and tested the hypothesis that is published in the Nature Geoscience Magazine.
The science behind the claim is as follows :
What are Faults and Fractures?
Deep below the surface (around 6-10 kms below) there are many small ruptures – called faults and fractures. Water usually logs into these ruptures, sealing them.
When an earthquake strikes, it moves along these faults. This causes the faults to be suddenly jerked wide, causing instant vaporization of the water in them. Think of it as prying open the lid of a pressure cooker. The contents inside would be instantly vaporized and would solidify.
How does Gold form in the Earth?
In the case of the earth, the water beneath the surface carries a high concentration of minerals including gold. Hence, vaporization of the water causes the mineral gold to solidify. This is why scientists are linking earthquakes to the discovery of quartz and gold in affected areas.
The process is called flash vaporization, and it takes place within a fraction of a second. However, this doesn’t mean you should go gold collecting after every tremor. Mineable gold may take centuries to form, say scientists. However, while a single event may not deposit significant levels of gold, successive earthquakes in the same area can cause a build-up of these deposits within the fractures eventually leading to economically viable gold concentrations, say the scientists.
This scientific process brings to the mind an image of shake, rattle and poof! Gold! Pretty magical eh?