One of the more mysterious geological occurrences is the surface vitrification observed coating may rock outcrops.
In the Kimberley region of Western Australia ancient rock paintings known as the Bradshaw Paintings are covered by a thin silicious coating that has permanently fused the painted art onto the rock surface, making this art particularly fire-resistant.
Modern aboriginal paintings are, on the other hand, directly painted and soon show the effects of weathering.
The sandstones in the Kimberley region are also coated with a surficial vitrification, a feature that can be observed elsewhere in Australia, such as Arnhem Land, and the Hawkesbury sandstone of the Sydney Basin that has been described as a quartzite, but at depth is actually in a state of wet plastic, a fact I stumbled on when supervising a diamond drilling operation testing the location of a fault interpreted in the geological analysis of a proposed railway tunnel for coal haulage near the NSW town of Wollongong.
Apparently similar vitrification has been observed on Easter Island, and of course the various “vitrified” forts described here in previous posts.
The puzzle lies in the origin of this vitrification. What is it?
Basically it seems to be similar to the thermal effects of a nuclear explosion where a sudden flash of extremely high temperature causes partial melting of the surface of rocks and stone structures that then cooled rapidly and left a glassy or vitrified coating. It is similar to some methods of glazing used in the production of baked clay utensils and bricks etc.
Nuclear explosions are electric plasma explosions, to put it simply, and yield a flash of intense heat and radiation.
Lechatelierite is a mineraloid as it does not have a crystal structure.
Although not a true mineral, it is often classified in the quartz mineral group.
One common way in which lechatelierite forms naturally is by very high temperature melting of quartz sand during a lightning strike.
The result is an irregular, branching, often foamy hollow tube of silica glass called a fulgurite.
Lechatelierite also forms as the result of high pressure shock metamorphism during meteorite impact cratering and is a common component of a type of glassy ejecta called tektites.
Most tektites are blobs of impure glassy material, but tektites from the Sahara Desert in Libya and Egypt, known as Libyan desert glass, are composed of almost pure silica, that is almost pure lechatelierite.
High pressure experiments have shown that shock pressures of 85 GPa are needed to produce lechatelierite in quartz grains embedded in granite.
Lechatelierite was formed during the impact of a meteorite into a layer of Coconino Sandstone at Meteor Crater in Arizona. During the rapid pressure reduction following the impact, steam expanded the newly formed lechatelierite. The shattered and expanded glass has a density less than that of water.
Lechatelierite may also form artificially, a unique example being the trinitite produced by melting of quartz sand at the first nuclear bomb explosion at Trinity Flats, White Sands, New Mexico.
One of archaeology’s puzzles identified by John Dayton and described in his book Minerals, Metals, Glazing and Man is the apparent anachronism of glazing found on artefacts assigned to pre Bronze and Iron Age eras. Charles Ginenthal has also discussed this issue in volume one of his Pillars of History series.
The pyramid-builders, for example, had knowledge of pottery and glassmaking techniques which they should not have possessed, knowledge which scholars would not have expected before the first millennium BC.
Thus in his Minerals, Metals, Glazing, and Man, the mineralogist John Dayton remarked on the advanced glazing techniques employed by the pyramid-builders.
Certain colors of glaze, for example, which could not have been known before the Late Bronze Age, were already being employed during the Pyramid Age.
In the tomb of queen Hetepheres, the mother of Cheops, Dayton noted the occurrence of “Tiny ring beads in blue, black, red and yellow” which are among the “mysteries of archaeology”.
According to Dayton, “If these [beads] were of faience, the tomb must date to the XVIIIth [18th] Dynasty.
Again, Dayton remarked on how certain colors of glaze found in Sixth Dynasty pottery could not have been developed much before the Eighteenth Dynasty.
The Pyramid Age – Emmet Sweeney -2007
It has occurred to me that so-called anachronistic glazing found among some archaeological remains might not have been created by man but may instead have been caused by a similar external geological forcing implied by the geological surface vitrification observed in the field elsewhere.
I find it puzzling that any civilisation would expend time and energy to mass produce glazed bricks and carvings for external decoration of buildings as implied by the glazed artefacts of ancient Babylon pictured by Dayton on his plate 25 and 26.
The Babylonians had the time and resources to glaze individual bricks and ornaments?
Did the ancient Egyptians bother glazing their external decorations?
Or was the destruction of the Mesopotamian civilisation associated with a global plasma related event that literally baked everything in its path?
It is more likely that the buildings and ornaments were simply painted and that a subsequent catastrophic event literally ‘cooked’ the structures imparting the glaze.
Glaze in this context is no different to thermally induced vitrification of rock outcrops and might have been caused by the same event.
Was glazing ubiquitous during the Bronze and Iron Ages?
Was pottery found in graves glazed or unglazed?
What might happen to standard baked bricks when exposed to a nuclear explosion?
Would the bricks become vitrified?
Is it purely a thermal process or is it also due to the intense electromagnetic radiation pulse typical of plasma Z-Pinches as well?
Or a combination of both where the molecular structure is suddenly altered?
I would also check to see if any of these glazed artefacts have any residual radioactivity. If so then the cause of the vitrification would be some sort of nuclear or plasma event.
And if this proposed plasma pulse did actually happen in the past, might it also have produced the globally extensive silicate sands from the electro-machining of the Earth’s surface as implied by the Australian aboriginal rainbow serpent stories?
Western Australia does have radioactive siliceous surface deposits known as ‘grey-billy’ or ‘laterites’, the iron rich variation which are also frequently radioactive.
Laterite is a soil and rock type rich in iron and aluminium, and is commonly considered to have formed in hot and wet tropical areas.
Nearly all laterites are of rusty-red coloration, because of high iron oxide content.
Laterites are a source of aluminium ore; the ore exists largely in clay minerals and the hydroxides, gibbsite, boehmite, and diaspore, which resembles the composition of bauxite.
Laterite ores also were the early major source of nickel.
Laterites consist mainly of quartz, zircon, and oxides of titanium, iron, tin, aluminium and manganese, which remain during the course of weathering.
The main host minerals for nickel and cobalt can be either iron oxides, clay minerals or manganese oxides.
Yves Tardy, from the French Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, calculated that laterites cover about one-third of the Earth’s continental land area.
They cover most of the land area between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn; areas not covered within these latitudes include the extreme western portion of South America, the southwestern portion of Africa, the desert regions of north-central Africa, the Arabian peninsula and the interior of Australia.
It might be possible to test these scenarios experimentally but playing around with Z-Pinch experiments is not for the faint-hearted or impecunious.
Instead a check to see if any of the glazed items are radioactive would be an initial measurement to test the theory.
After 1000 CE Angkorian construction changed from circular or irregular earthen walls to rectangular temple enclosures of laterite, brick and stone structures.
Geographic surveys show areas which have laterite stone alignments which may be foundations of temple sites that have not survived.
Two types of laterite can be identified; both types consist of the minerals kaolinite, quartz, hematite and goethite.
Differences in the amounts of minor elements arsenic, antimony, vanadium and strontium were measured between the two laterites.
Strontium is a chemical element with symbol Sr and atomic number 38.
An alkaline earth metal, strontium is a soft silver-white or yellowish metallic element that is highly reactive chemically.
The metal turns yellow when it is exposed to air.
While natural strontium is stable, the synthetic 90Sr isotope is present in radioactive fallout and has a half-life of 28.90 years.
Both strontium and strontianite are named after Strontian, a village in Scotland near which the mineral was discovered in 1790 by Adair Crawford and William Cruickshank.
Strontian is the main village in Sunart, an area in western Lochaber, Highland, Scotland, on the A861 road.
The history of mining in the Strontian area dates to 1722, when Sir Alexander Murray discovered galena in the hills the region.
Various materials have been mined here including lead, and strontianite, which contains the element named after the village, Strontium.
All rather unsettling in a scientific sense, no?