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Antarctic Surprise: Active Volcano Spewing Daily Dose of Gold Dust

Microscopic Particles Travel Hundreds of Miles from Mount Erebus

by Victor Adetimilehin

Mount Erebus, a formidable and constantly active volcano towering over Antarctica, is ejecting an unexpected treasure: tiny gold particles. Researchers estimate the volcano spews out roughly 80 grams of gold each day, carried aloft in plumes of gas. This daily amount translates to a value of nearly $6,000 based on current gold prices.

The microscopic gold dust travels surprisingly far. Reports indicate the dust has been detected over 621 miles away from the volcano itself. Standing at a staggering 12,448 feet, Mount Erebus holds the title of the continent’s tallest volcano.

Unique Volcanic Makeup Behind Golden Emissions

Experts believe the gold emissions are linked to Mount Erebus’s unusual composition. The volcano sits on a particularly thin section of Earth’s crust, allowing molten rock from the planet’s interior to rise more easily. This molten rock, or magma, carries gold particles along with it as it erupts.

While the daily gold emission is a fascinating fact, it’s just one facet of Mount Erebus’s fiery activity. The volcano constantly releases plumes of gas and steam, a testament to its ongoing Strombolian eruptions. These eruptions are characterized by the rhythmic ejection of molten rock fragments called bombs, adding another layer of drama to Mount Erebus’s display.

A Mountain with a Violent Past

Mount Erebus’s temperamental nature is unfortunately linked to a devastating event. In 1979, an Air New Zealand passenger flight tragically collided with the volcano, resulting in the loss of all 257 people on board. The incident, known as the Mount Erebus disaster, remains one of the deadliest aviation accidents in history.

The gold particles spewed by Mount Erebus are microscopic, and the harsh Antarctic environment makes any potential gold extraction commercially unrealistic. However, the phenomenon offers valuable insights into the composition of Earth’s mantle and the processes that occur within active volcanoes.

Researchers are particularly interested in studying the volcanic plume to understand how elements like gold are transported within the Earth. This knowledge can shed light on the formation of mineral deposits around the world.

Mount Erebus Continues to Capture Scientific Interest

Mount Erebus is a natural laboratory for volcanologists and geochemists. Its unique location, ongoing activity, and unusual emissions make it a site of continued scientific exploration. While the daily gold emission may not spark an Antarctic gold rush, it adds another layer of intrigue to this fascinating and powerful volcano.

Source: Mining.com

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