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Posts Tagged ‘Eyjafjallajokull’

Beneath the floor, under the pine slats
Worn smooth by the grit and movement of daily life,
Far beneath the moist loam that pushes up flowers
After the snow melt and the spring showers,
Beneath the sand banks of an ancient river shore
Lies a deep layer of sandstone, the grains joined
Together by years of cohabitation under heat and pressure,
Moderated only by the silent trickle of dissolved stone,
Dripping, oozing into each unfilled crevice.

Still further down, under the suffocating pressure
of the overlying burden,
Under temperatures rising ever higher,
higher with each meter of descent,
The grains have merged, recrystallized,
reorganized their component atoms,
One of silicon paired with two of oxygen,
into a larger mosaic, forming a twice denser rock,
Solid, strong enough to sustain what lies above,
though the tiny fossil flowers and worms
Have long since been lost, their history and form
dissolved and forgotten in the fiery metamorphic crucible.

We are now fifteen kilometers below
the pine slats of the cabin, below the roots
Of the surrounding meadow grass.
The temperature has risen to eight times the boiling
Point of water; the pressure would crush
the strongest submarine. We descend
Further, towards the core, we feel the upwelling of magma,
rock turned fluid, rising,
Pushing up against the rock above, splitting the plates apart,
spitting fire, spreading the rock
With its fiery force, pushing upward and outward
until the skin of the earth bursts
And a great plume of ash and noxious gas
rises high above the icy island.

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previous: action on the home front

A few days ago, I wrote about the eruption under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in southern Iceland. There was all that hot gas and so forth burping upwards from the nether regions, and also an imagined legend about the trolls who live beneath the ice. But it turns out that the subglacial world, as it is called, is a happening place further south as well: in the other Iceland, the BIG ONE. To quote, which is the cheapest way of boosting the daily word count,

Antarctica Shelters Abundant Microbial Life In Water Miles Below The Icy Surface.

A more sedate view of what is going on down down there can be found in
Science News.

I don’t want to pre-empt the reading pleasure that these links will bring you, but would nonetheless like to indulge in a bit of repeating, ahem, reporting, and of course in some punditistic commentary. We begin with this amazing quote:

They found that the source of the falls — a sunless, 23-degree pool three times saltier than the ocean, trapped under the ice for at least 2 million years — was home to at least 17 types of microbes. Similar to how other organisms use oxygen, the microbes use iron in their environment to “breathe”, and an oxidized (or rusted) version of the iron then spews out with the brine. As Priscu describes it, the microbes, in effect,” eat rocks.”

Microbe at Blood Falls, Antarctica

After this gloominous description, reminiscent of Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, the author states that “studies of Lake Vostok ice core samples … report microbial life on the order of 100 to 1,000 cells per milligram of water.” Ouch! that sounds like a crowd, though the variation in the estimate indicates sloppiness. Can’t these scientists do better, even if they are working in extreme conditions? So far, so good, I suppose. But then the author oversteps:

The microbes clearly live together as a community: They need each other to survive,” said Mikucki, whose work was supported by the National Science Foundation. “Waste produced by one will be food for another. Really, there’s no reason to think that isn’t common around Antarctica.”

The agenda is now clear. This is about community, ecosystems (which right-thinking people disavow) and, dare I say, it? Well, yes I do: THINLY VEILED SOCIALISM, albeit at the microscopic level. Micro or macro, it is still bad news. Right is right, wrong is wrong.

HH

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Poem

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