Misc Musings Planet Earth

The Smouldering Ghost Town of Centralia

centralia-45Founded in 1862 the mining town of Centralia in Pennsylvania was created due to the demand for coal as a primary fuel source, throughout the 19th and 20th Century a mass web of mines, tunnels and underground gangways were constructed to get at the coal resources deep under ground. It is estimated that 95% of Anthracite coal (a very high energy form of coal) is located underneath Pennsylvania and there was an estimated 25 million tons of it under the town of Centralia.

However during the mid 20th century the demand for coal reduced in favour of other fuels such as gas and oil and the vast web of mines underneath the town of Centralia were eventually abandoned.

On the 27th May 1962 the mine shafts under Centralia caught fire, it is still debated how the fire initially caught ablaze but the main assumption is that a fire was purposely ignited in an attempt to clear up a rubbish tip, beneath this rubbish tip was a hidden mineshaft entrance where the fire began to slowly wind its way through the labyrinth of underground mines beneath the town.

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Planet Earth

There is More Water in the Earth’s Mantle Than on the Surface

parts-of-the-earth-diagramThe planet Earth is huge. It is so large that we could not even fathom it’s size, the Earth has been estimated to weigh around 6 million, billion, billion kg (that’s 24 noughts!), we consider our planet to be the “blue planet” due to the amount of water but in reality water makes up less than  0.1 % of the entire planet’s mass.

The Earth’s surface contains 70% water, the vast oceans of Earth span for tens of thousands of kilometres, however in comparison to the size of the planet, the Earth’s surface is a tiny portion of the world. For example, in the Earth’s crust, the first layer of the Earth, which is around 35km below earth (which is around the length of the city of London) the mass of the land is 40 times greater than that of the oceans due to the sheer size of the bedrock.

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Planet Earth

Antarctica is the Worlds Largest Desert

West_Antarctic_ice_sheetWhen you think of a desert you probably think of sand, camels and searing hot sun. However a desert is defined by having lower than 25 centimetres of precipitation (either through rainfall or snow/ice) per year, there are many deserts in the world that are polar deserts, places that are so cold that they receive very little rainfall each year. The largest of these is the continent of Antarctica.

Antarctica receives on average 50 mm of precipitation per year, mainly in the form of snow and spans the near 14,000,000 kilometres of the continent, nearly as large as the USA. In comparison the second largest desert in the world, The Sahara Desert in northern Africa is 9,400,000 km. The Sahara is the more commonly known desert as it fits the stereotypical characteristics that we would think of when considering a desert, but is nowhere near as large as Antarctica.

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