Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flue- Is it a work of terrorist group or it is simple case of negligence?

Swine Flue is spreading worldwide.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
Fig.1. spreading of Swine Flue in US.

Fig.2. Spreading of Swine flue in Europe.
Global health authorities warned that swine flu was threatening to bloom into a pandemic, and the virus spread farther in Europe even as the outbreak appeared to stabilize at its epicenter. A toddler who succumbed in Texas became the first death outside Mexico. New cases and deaths finally seemed to be leveling off in Mexico, where 160 people have been killed, after an aggressive public health campaign.
Scientists believe that somewhere in the world, months or even a year ago, a pig virus jumped to a human and mutated, and has been spreading between humans ever since. Unlike with bird flu, doctors have no evidence suggesting a direct pig-to-human infection from this strain, which is why they haven't recommended killing pigs.
Sudden reports of spreading such diseases arises many questions. Every year we hear about one epidemic or others and we are not able to find the point source of the epidemics. To me I feel that it nothing to do with any natural source. If it had been natural then why it originated only from Mexico and why not India where many people have direct contact with pigs or in other way we can say that their day to day livelihood is dependent on the pigs. According to different reports Swine flu is common in swine and rare in humans. People who work with swine, especially people with intense exposures, are at risk of catching swine influenza if the swine carry a strain able to infect humans. Either it is a work of different terrorist groups using it as biological weapons (such as use of Anthrax), or it is a simple case of negligence from our side. Many such viruses or bacteria are kept in isolation for different research purposes in research laboratories or hospitals. Due to negligence or carelessness the virus or bacteria escapes to the atmosphere after getting favorable environment gets active as it happened in New Delhi when few years ago Dengue virus spread in New Delhi and the suspected source was one of the prestigious hospital of India. From that time every year we hear the new cases of Dengue fever in New Delhi and surrounding states. Unfortunately there is no specific medication for such diseases. There is also no vaccine for prevention.
We can also blame the climate change or global warming for origination and spreading of such diseases. Global warming is helping such types of bacteria or virus to multiply especially in Tropical countries.
In humans, the symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of influenza and of influenza-like illness in general, namely chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort.
The 2009 flu outbreak in humans is due to a new strain of influenza A virus subtype H1N1 that derives in part from human influenza, avian influenza, and two separate strains of swine influenza. The origins of this new strain are unknown, and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) reports that it has not been isolated in swine. It passes with apparent ease from human to human, an ability attributed to an as-yet unidentified mutation. The strain in most cases causes only mild symptoms and the infected person makes a full recovery without requiring medical attention and without the use of antiviral medicines.
Whatever may be the cause but it is now essential to find out the point sources of such types of life threatening diseases.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Man with a arms in a girls school in Ranchi.

Where is the school security?
Though this photo is nothing to do with environmental issues but still it is more serious than any other man made disaster. This man has come with a gun to pick up his ward from a prestigious girls school of Ranchi in Jharkhand State of India. Ward must be the daughter of his boss. Presence of this person with arms raised many a eyebrows. Are we waiting for the disaster to happen. What will happen if gun misfire? Is it ethical? What will be the impact on children's mind? No body in the the school stops such person. Even the school guards allow such persons to enter the school campus without any verification. Where is the security? This is the regular phenomenon in some of the schools in Ranchi.

Plant more trees to reduce carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide on the rise.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
Carbon is found in all living things –plants, animals, and humans- and nearly everywhere on the Earth. It is found in the atmosphere in the gas carbon dioxide, and dissolved in water in oceans and lakes. It is also found in soil, fossil fuels stored deep in ground, certain types of rocks, and in the shells of animals.

The carbon cycle is a complex cycle that circulates carbon between plants, animals and soils. The exchange of carbon between living and non-living things is very closely balanced. About 100 gigatonnes of carbon is captured by plants and oceans each year and about the same amount is released back into the environment. But this natural balance is disturbed by human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation. Burning fossil fuels releases more carbon dioxide into the air. Deforestation or thin forest cover on the other hand, results in less carbon being removed from the atmosphere. It is clear from the pictures below where more carbon concentration (in Red colour) is seen in the atmosphere on the areas (Northern Hemisphere) where the forest cover is thin as compared to southern hemisphere where forest covers are sufficient. Green plants are known as carbon sinks. This means that they remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it.
Fig. 1. [Picture showing the forest cover on our Earth in green colours]
source: NASA's Terra satellite.

Fig.2. [Red colour is the concentration of carbon dioxide. Concentration of CO2 is high where forest cover is thin.]

An international team of scientists, including researchers from CIFOR, have discovered that rainforest trees are getting bigger, storing more carbon from the atmosphere and slowing climate change.

According to the findings, tropical trees in undisturbed forests around the world are absorbing nearly a fifth of the carbon-dioxide (C02) released by burning fossil fuels. That is significantly more than the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the world’s transport sector.

The researchers estimate that remaining tropical forests remove a massive 4.8 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere each year. This includes a previously unknown carbon sink in Africa, mopping up 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 each year.

Published on February 19 in Nature, the 40-year study of African tropical forests, which account for one third of the world’s total tropical forest, shows that over decades each hectare of intact African forest has trapped an extra 0.6 tonnes of carbon per year.

Over the past 140 years, forest clearing and fossil-fuel burning have pushed up the atmosphere’s CO2 level by nearly 100 parts per million. The average surface temperature of the Northern Hemisphere has mirrored the rise in CO2. the 1990s was the warmest decade since the mid- 1800s, and 1998 the warmest year.

While all living plant matter absorbs CO2 as part of photosynthesis, trees process significantly more than smaller plants due to their large size and extensive root structures. In essence, trees, as kings of the plant world, have much more “woody biomass” to store CO2 than smaller plants, and as a result are considered nature’s most efficient “carbon sinks.”
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), tree species that grow quickly and live long are ideal carbon sinks.

Forests are carbon stores, and they are carbon dioxide sinks when they are increasing in density or area.

As the human population increases, forests are cleared for land and to provide firewood and timber to build houses. Today, almost all of the forests in Europe and North America have been cleared. The forests that remain are mostly in tropical areas like the Amazon region of Brazil and Southeast Asia.

The terrifying fact is that tropical forests are also being destroyed across the planet at accelerating rates. Current estimates indicate that as much as 17 million hectares of tropical forests are being destroyed each year, with up to six million hectares alone of that destruction taking place in the Brazilian Amazon. Saranda forest (one of the biggest forest area of Asia} of Jharkhand State of Eastern India is also being destroyed due illegal iron ore mining which is rampant in the area.

These forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Data obtained from satellites show that the rate of destruction in these places has increased to between 64,000 square kilometres and 204,000 square kilometres. Scientists estimate that by 2030, 80 percent of the world’s forest will be lost forever. As wood decomposes or is burned for fuel, the carbon stored in trees goes back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. According to the scientists, deforestation accounts for about 20 per cent of the increase in the release of human related carbon dioxide since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

In the mid-1700s, people began to invent machines to help them do work. Like vehicles today, these machines burned fossil fuels for energy, which released green house gases into the atmosphere. More and more machines were built and used. In less than 200 years, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased from 280 parts per million to 360 parts per million. This means that if we divided a sample of air into a million parts, 360 of those parts would be carbon dioxide.

Forest scientists have come to a surprising conclusion regarding old growth forests and their majestic, mature trees: They’re not just relaxing in their arboreal old age, but are still actively taking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The new study suggests that protecting old growth forests may be just as important as planting new trees in efforts to reduce carbon dioxide levels and fight global warming.

Previously, researchers believed that only young, fast-growing trees absorbed enough carbon dioxide to be considered significant “carbon sinks.” Old, crowded forests don’t allow for much new growth: The only new growth occurred in the small spaces that opened up when large old trees died and decomposed, releasing their accumulated carbon. The forests at large were therefore considered to be carbon neutral, and accounted as such in climate models [Nature News]. But the new study shows that the slow but continuous growth of old trees means that they continue to suck up more carbon than they release. These forests need to be protected not just because they help to absorb carbon dioxide, but also because destroying them could release huge stores of greenhouse gases.
Already we have pumped out enough greenhouse gases to warm the planet for many decades to come. We have created the environment in which our children and grandchildren are going to leave.


Bunyard, P.,1999. Eradicating the Amazon rainforests will wreak havoc on climate. The Ecologist. Volume.29, no.2.

National Geographic Magazine, September,2004.

Our Warming Planet, 2004. Times Editions, Singapore.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Geodes- a fascinating geological wonder.

Chotanagpur Plateau of Jharkhand State of India contains numerous varieties of geodes.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

They are a fascinating geological wonder. From the outside, they appear as any common, ugly rock, but when broken open they reveal a charming display of crystals. Practically all geodes are composed of Quartz. The crystals can be microscopic or can be quite large. When it occurs in crystals not visible to the human eye, it is known as a Chalcedony Geode

Geodes are the discrete bodies of mineral matter, commonly spherical, hollow, and lined inside with crystals of various minerals. Geodes necessarily originate from cavities in rock. Deposition of minerals proceeds inward from the cavity wall, producing a characteristic drusy structure, so that the youngest mineral generation is near the center and may fill the void completely. In a geode, the mineral layers lining the cavity must be more resistant to weathering and erosion than the host rock, so that upon weathering, a discrete, hollow mineral body is released.

Any cavity in rock is potentially the site of geode formation. In a particular geode occurrence, the key question is the origin of the cavity. Geodes have formed in vesicles of lava flows, such as those of the Columbia Plateau. Miarolitic cavities in plutonic igneous rocks, the original voids or body cavities of fossils, and a host of solution cavities in sedimentary rocks have given rise to geodes. The origin of the geodes involves first the origin of the cavity, and second the filling of the cavity.

Significant features of geodes are their sub-spherical shape, their hollow interior, their outer chalcedonic layer and, the inner drusy lining of inward projecting crystals.
Geodes are hollow, globular bodies, varying from couple of centimeters to nearly a meter in diameter (most are 10 to 20 cm).

The mineral matter that fills the cavities comes from ground water passing through the rock. Water contains dissolved matter such as silicon, oxygen, calcium, and carbonate. Under certain conditions, these chemicals precipitate out of the water, forming a solid mineral that is deposited inside the cavities. (This is the same manner in which lime builds up on a stalactite , or on the inside of a tea pot.) One of the most common types of mineral matter filling nodules and geodes is silica, in the form of agate.

Each geode is unique in composition and can only be truly discovered when cracked open or cut with a rock saw. The size and formation of crystals and different shades of color within the crystals make each geode special.

Chotanagpur Plateau of Jharkhand State of India contains numerous varieties of geodes. Villagers sometime confuse it with diamonds filling in rocks.


Most geodes have siliceous outer shells; the physical and chemical durability of silica is responsible for the discreteness and preservation of such geodes. Geodes with outer shells of calcite or iron oxides and hydroxides are less common. Some contain clear, pure quartz crystals, and others have rich purple amethyst crystals. Still others can have agate, chalcedony, or jasper or minerals such as calcite, dolomite, celestite, etc. There is no easy way of telling what the inside of a geode holds until it is cut open or broken apart.
  1. Pettijohn, E.J., 1984. Sedimentary Rocks. CBS Publishers, India.
  2. The Encyclopedia of Sedimentology, 1978. ed. Rhodes W. Fairbridge and Joanne Bourgeois. Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross, Inc. Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Think twice before using radioactive granite for decorative purpose in your house- radiation may affect you.

Granite rocks in some parts of Jharkhand State of India is highly radioactive- says research.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

A physics professor at Rice University is warning of a radioactive threat found in some kitchen countertops.
Some granite countertops contain levels of uranium high enough to be dangerous to humans, said Rice professor W.J. Llope.

Using a spectrometer, Llope tested 25 varieties of granite bought from Houston-area dealers. In some cases, he said, he found countertops that could expose homeowners to 100 millirems of radiation in just a few months — the annual exposure limit set by the Department of Energy for visitors to nuclear labs.

Scientists at the national geophysical research institute (NGRI) of India have disturbing news for residents of Hyderabad city especially those living in rocky Banjara and Jubilee hills area. They have found that the granite rocks of Hyderabad have abnormally high concentrations of radioactive uranium and thorium compared to elsewhere in southern India. Team has measured the radioactivity of rocks from nearly 2,000 locations in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and nowhere did they find it to be as high as in Hyderabad.

Rocks in the western part of Hyderabad are more radioactive compared to those in the east. Rocks in the posh areas of jubilee and Banjara hills have twice as much uranium as found in Uppal in the southeastern part of the city.

The uranium content of Hyderabad granites varied from 10 parts per million (ppm) to 25 ppm in contrast to 0.23 ppm for Chennai and 1.7 ppm to 7.5 ppm for Bangalore. The thorium content of Hyderabad granites was also found to be four to five times higher than that of Bangalore. These high values of radioactive elements could pose a health hazard.

According to A. M. El Arabi, N. K. Ahmed and K. Salahel Din of Physics Department, South Valley University, Qena, Egypt, the average dose rates values for outdoor and indoor air for Elba granites of Egypt are found to be three times higher than the world average. Whereas, the corresponding average values for Qash Amir and Hamra Dome granites are five and six times higher than the world average, respectively. Thus, this information is an important alert for the local people to avoid the use of these granites in the construction of dwelling without radioactivity control.

While most experts agree that only a small percentage of granite in homes today poses any health risk, the current debate centers on identifying granite that might emit radiation and determining under what circumstances a danger occurs.

All rocks have a small amount of radioactivity in them due to the presence of minerals that contain radioactive elements uranium (U), thorium (Th) and potassium-40 (40K). Because granite typically contains more of these elements than most other rocks, it will be more radioactive than a slate or marble. All of the minerals in granite contain some radioelements; the white or pink feldspars contain 40K, the black biotites and horn-blendes contain 40K, U and Th, and the small inclusions of minerals such as zircon, apatite, sphene, etc. contain the most U and Th.

People living in granite areas or on mineralized sands receive more terrestrial radiation than others, while people living or working at high altitudes receive more cosmic radiation. A lot of our natural exposure is due to radon, a gas which seeps from the earth's crust and is present in the air we breathe.

It has been established that human exposure to radioactivity comes mainly from natural sources. The natural radiation to which the general public is exposed consists of two components, namely, internal exposure and external exposure. Internal exposure is due to the inhalation of radon gas in the air and the intake of traces of radio nuclides in food and drinking water. External exposure arises from terrestrial gamma rays and cosmic radiation incident on the earth’s surface. In fact, only about 15% of the total effective dose is derived from cosmic radiation and about 0.6% is attributable to cosmogenic radio nuclides. The members of the radioactive decay chains of 232Th (14%), 235U and 238U (55.8%), along with 40K (13.8%) are responsible for the main contributions to the dose from natural radiation, while a more than 0.3% is due to the effect of 87Rb.

Many natural rocks contain radioactive elements such as 238U, 226Ra, 232Th and 40K. Although these radio nuclides are widely distributed, their concentrations depend on geological and geographical conditions and as such they vary from place to place.

In geology, rock is a naturally occurring aggregate of minerals. Rocks have had a huge impact on the cultural and technological advancement of the human race. Rocks especially granite have been used by Homo sapiens and other hominids for more than 2 million years. The prehistory and history of civilization is classified into the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age. Although the stone age has ended virtually everywhere, rocks continue to be used to construct buildings and infrastructure.

But now a days rock (granite) are now seen as source of dangerous radioactivity. It is in the form of natural background radiation which affects the humans. Humans have always been exposed throughout their period of existence to naturally occurring ionizing radiation.

Geologically the term granite is placed under felsic or acidic divisions. It refers to a rock composed mainly of quartz and feldspar as essential minerals. The dark minerals like biotite, tourmaline and few of amphiboles groups, etc. occur as minor constituents of granite. Granite is the typical example of relatively coarse- grained plutonic rocks that crystallized slowly in large masses within the crust.

Granite is actually rather radioactive and has 5 to 20 times the concentration of uranium compared to other common rock types. Some health concern exists in areas that are rich in granitic terrain, as background radiation is enhanced by the presence of large granite bodies. Although the uranium is generally not concentrated enough to make granite a uranium ore, the leaching and erosion of granite has helped produce most of the uranium ore deposits around the world.

Some granites contain around 10 to 20 parts per million of uranium. By contrast, more mafic rocks such as tonalite, gabbro or diorite have 1 to 5 ppm uranium, and limestones and sedimentary rocks usually have equally low amounts. Granite could be considered a potential natural radiological hazard as, for instance, villages located over granite may be susceptible to higher doses of radiation than other communities.

Granite has been extensively used as a dimension stones and as flooring tiles in public and commercial buildings and monuments. Because of its abundance, granite was commonly used to build foundations for homes in New England. With increasing amounts of acid rain in parts of the world, granite has begun to supplant marble as a monument material, since it is much more durable. Polished granite is also a popular choice for kitchen countertops due to its high durability and aesthetic qualities.

People using granites, containing high uranium, for decorative purpose inside house may be affected with radiation.

People of Ranchi and other parts of Jharkhand state of India are frequently using polished granites for different decorative purpose without knowing how much uranium is present in the stone. Author has earlier warned the people of Ranchi about the possibility of radioactivity in Ranchi rocks. People using local granites or brought from Hyderabad, for decorative purpose, should be more cautious.

Even the granites of the Daltonganj area of Jharkhand state contain anomalous uranium values. Uranium mineralization has also been observed in the granitic rocks comprising the southern periphery of the Hutar basin of Daltonganj area. The Proterozoic granitoids, forming the provenance for the Hutar and Auranga subbasin, have been analyzed which revealed uranium content up to 520 ppm. ( Virnave, 1999).

As demand for granite has increased, exotic stones are being imported from remote corners of the world and greater scrutiny is needed. Lots of varieties of granite are sold for household use in the Jharkhand State. None of them is routinely tested for radioactivity. Even the businessman selling granites are in regular contact with the radiation.

People must go for alternative decorative stones like sandstone or marble, having low uranium, other than using radioactive granites. Even if they are using granites, their houses should be proper ventilated so that the poisonous gases can be flushed out.


A. M. El Arabi, N. K. Ahmed and K. Salahel Din. ASSESSMENT OF TERRESTRIAL GAMMA RADIATION DOSES FOR SOME EGYPTIAN GRANITE SAMPLES. Radiation Protection Dosimetry 1-4 (2007).

Bruzzi, L., Baroni, M., Mele, R. and Nanni, E. Proposal for a method of certification of natural radioactivity in building materials. Radiolo. Protec. 17(2), 85–94 (1997).

Iqbal, M., Tufail, M. and Mirza, S. M. Measurement of natural radioactivity in marble found in Pakistan using a NaI(Tl) gamma-ray spectrometer. Environ. Radioact. 51, 255–265 (2000).

Virnave, S.N. Nuclear Geology and Atomic Mineral Resources. Bharati Bhawan, Patna. 169.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fresh photographs of Jharia mine fire.

Fresh photographs of Jharia mine fire in Jharkhand State of India.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
Fig. Jharia resembles a cremation ground at night.

Fig: smoke coming out in main town

Fig. Cavities being formed on the surface of the Jharia town

The haunting inscription that marks the gates of hell in Dante’s Inferno could well be true for Jharia, located in Jharkhand in India. For, the underground fires that have been raging in the coalfields of this town over several decades are now beginning to engulf its thickly inhabited areas as well.
Such is the intensity of the fires that even a mid-summer sun pales in the smoky haze that they generate. After dusk, the flames take on morbid hues. “Jharia resembles a cremation ground at night”.
The fires have consumed about 42 million tones of India’s best coking coal.
There appears to be no permanent solution in sight. The only opinion seems to be cut out trenches to disconnect fire seams which have been identified. But this would require a huge investment. But the extent to which has flared up in Jharia makes dousing it an uphill task-particularly when all the prevailing conditions further fan the fire.
The only solution which is now seen is the “shifting of town”. This means that the relocation would affect the nearly 0.3 million population of Jharia, approximately 0.1 million houses and other buildings and prospering economy.

A coal seam fire or mine fire is the underground smouldering of a coal deposit, often in a coal mine. Such fires have economic, social and ecological impacts. They are often started by lightning, grass, or forest fires, and are particularly insidious because they continue to smoulder underground after surface fires have been extinguished, sometimes for many years, before flaring up and restarting forest and brush fires nearby. They propagate in a creeping fashion along mine shafts and cracks in geologic structures.
Coal fires are a serious problem because hazards to health and safety and the environment include toxic fumes, reigniting grass, brush, or forest fires, and subsidence of surface infrastructure such as roads, pipelines, electric lines, bridge supports, buildings and homes. Whether started by humans or by natural causes, coal seam fires continue to burn for decades or even centuries until either the fuel source is exhausted; a permanent groundwater table is encountered; the depth of the burn becomes greater than the ground’s capacity to subside and vent; or humans intervene. Because they burn underground, coal seam fires are extremely difficult and costly to extinguish, and are unlikely to be suppressed by rainfall.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Paleoenvironmental implications of the Boron content of coals.

Paleoenvironmental implications of the Boron content of coals with special reference to Jharkhand coals of India.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
71 channeled samples of coals of Permian age from eight coalmines in the Jharkhand State of India were collected. The boron content ranges from BDL to 35ppm. and is well within the range of most world coals. Average ash% (30.12) is high. Boron was analyzed in coal ash using Spectrophotometer. The close similarity of boron in the coals under study and other lower Gondwana basins of India are broadly attributed to the uniform sources. Coals under study have low boron content, and were deposited under fresh water influence during the early stages of coalification.

The geochemistry of coal is an integral part of any modern study dealing with coal characterization, owing to the possible presence in the coal of toxic and industrially undesirable elements that exceed the legal limits for emission of such substances. A coal seam formed from material deposited in a brackish water environment may contain undesirable elements; for example, sulphur and elements that form sulphides and sulphates. Boron is an element that is sensitive to the environment of deposition and, therefore, can be used to delineate the area(s) of a coalfield influenced by brackish water conditions during deposition.

Interest in the elemental composition of coal has been on the increase worldwide mainly as a result of growing environmental problems.

Our interest in the boron content of coals is of several reasons. It has been suggested that boron presumably derived from the coke may affect the mechanical properties of certain steels. Coal has been considered as a source of graphite for use as a moderator in nuclear reactors, but the content of boron in the graphite must not exceed 2 ppm. The levels of soluble boron coming from washery wastes and fly ash disposal areas should be checked to ensure that undesirable amounts of boron are not being added to nearby rivers or lakes. Some fly ashes could be useful as soil supplements, but plants should be monitored to ascertain whether the boron from fly ash is enhancing or retarding their growth. Similar effects should also be considered during reclamation projects after coal –mining. From geochemical point of view, the content of boron is interesting because it indicates whether the environment involved fresh, mildly brackish, or brackish water conditions during the early stages of coalification. The investigation has been done on Australian coals (Swaine, 1971) and Canadian coals (Goodarzi, 1988; Banerjee and Goodarzi, 1990; Gentzis

The Permian coal deposits constitute 98% of the total coal reserves of the country. The
geology of the ancient Indian shield consists of extensively mineralized rock in vicinity
of Gondwana coal basins, it is but normal that the coal ash would be rich in many heavy
metals derived from the respective terrains.

The purpose of this paper is to determine the boron content in different coal seams of different coalfields of Jharkhand State, to discuss the mode of occurrence of Boron in the coals and to evaluate the relation between the boron content in Permian coals of Jharkhand and environment of deposition.


71 channel samples of Gondwana coals of Jharia, East Bokaro, Ramgarh, South Karanpura, North Karanpura and Hutar coalfield (fig.1) were collected for study. Samples were ashed in platinum crucibles in muffle furnace at 5000c. for 6 hours. Boron was determined in the ash through Spectrophotometer (Beckman DB-G, Grating Spectrophotometer). Analysis as described by Pollock (1975) was followed.
Boron content in coals:

Results for boron in coal are given in table-1. The range for world coals being 0.5-2456ppm boron, but most would probably be between 5 and 400ppm boron (Swaine, 1990). Average concentration (19.70 ppm) of boron in coal samples under study is well within the range of most world coals. Boron content show little variation in all the coal samples collected from Karharbari and Barakar Formations. Average ash% is high (30.12). At best this is blendable variety.

Mukherjee (1982) studied spectrochemically the coals of Karharbari and Barakar Formation of the coal field under study and observed that Boron content is in range of 10-30 ppm in Dobari Quarry of Jharia coal field, 5 ppm in Kusunda open cast mine of Jharia coal field, 10-60 ppm in East Bokaro coal field, 10-20 ppm in Ramgarh coal field, 10-30 ppm in Argada coal field, 5-15 ppm of Dakra seam of North Karanpura coal field and 5-10 ppm in Hutar coal field.

Boron content in the other Indian coals is in range of 25-28ppm boron in Rajmahal Purnea belt, 5-27ppm in Mahanadi coalfields, 5-31ppm in Son valley, 10-30ppm in Satpura valley, 18-21ppm in Wardha coalfield, and 12-38ppm in Godavari valley (Mukherjee 10-30ppm boron has been reported from Tertiary coals of NW India (Chandra and Singh, 1994). The close similarity of boron in the coals under study and other coals of Gondwana basins may be broadly attributed to the more uniform nature of the major contributory sources of the Gondwana coals.

Mode of occurrence:

The boron in coals is thought to be mostly organically bound. An inverse relationship between boron and the ash content of the coals has been mentioned by many authors as being indicative of the organic affinity of boron (Butler,1953; Goodarzi,1988; Swaine, 1990; Beaton et al.,1991). Inorganically bound boron is usually associated with the clay minerals, mainly illite (Bouska and Pesek, 1976; Kler, 1987). But in the research area we cannot make any assumptions regarding organic or inorganic affinity of boron as the correlation value between ash% and boron is low (r = -13.6). It may be organically bound.

Relation between the boron content in coals of Jharkhand and environment of deposition:
Boron as an indicator of the paleosalinity of the sedimentation environment has been a subject of many investigations. Goldschmidt and Peters (1932) pointed out for the first time the relation between the high boron content in sea water and the boron content in sea water and the boron content in marine sediments. Later Goldschmidt (1958) stated:
"The supply of boron from the ocean among the various types of sediments, really dominates the geochemistry of this element".

Further work on Swedish sediments indicated that the boron concentrations in marine and non-marine sediments differ significantly (Landergren,1945). The boron content of seawater is 4440 ppb, while that of river water is 10 ppb (Li, 1982).

This is the basis for the use of boron as a salinity indicator. The basis for using the amount of boron in clays, coals, or other materials as an indicator is that seawater contains 4.6ppm boron compared with less than about 0.1ppm boron in most rivers and other terrestrial waters (Goodarzi and Swaine, 1994). The question is, do clays and coals assimilate boron from the waters in which they are deposited and retain it during the diagenesis and later processes? There is an experimental evidence that clays remove some boron from aqueous solutions. For example Kaolinite, Montmorillonite, and Illite extract boron from solutions, but not to the same extent (Hingston, 1964).

Another experimental study showed that the removal of boron from natural waters depended on both the salinity and the boron content of the solution. These experiments confirmed that adsorption is the mechanism for the initial intake of boron. In general, Illites fix more boron than Kaolinites or Montmorillonites, depending mainly on the boron concentration in solution, but also on pH, ionic strength, and temperature (Goodarzi and Swaine, 1994).

In view of the usefulness of the boron content of clays for indicating, at least approximately, the degree of salinity in terms of marine, brackish water, and fresh water, several attempts have been made to use the boron content of sediments associated with coals. Shales from the part of Appalachian coal basin in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. was investigated and was found the following mean values for boron content: 44ppm boron (fresh water), 92ppm boron (brackish water), and 115ppm boron (marine) (Degens, 1957;Keith and Degens, 1959). On the basis of work on some sediments in Ruhr region of Germany it was suggested values of 15 to 45ppm boron for fresh water conditions and 90 to 190ppm for marine conditions (Ernst 1958). In the Hat Creek coals in the south-central British Columbia there are two of the thickest sub-bituminous coal deposits in the world, and formed in a fresh water, lacustrine environment (Goodarzi and Van der Flier-Keller,1988). They contain 5 to 32 ppm boron, which indicates freshwater conditions consistent with other evidence (Goodarzi and Gentzis,1987).
The above studies support the use of boron along with other parameters for determination of the depositional environments of sediments.

On the basis of different results and further work, it was suggested that the following scale of value is applicable (Swaine,1971).

Up to 40ppm boron: fresh water-influenced coals.
40 to 120ppm boron: brackish-water influenced coals.
> 120ppm boron : marine, seawater influenced coals.

Following a reappraisal of earlier work and taking into account of recent work on Canadian coals and Australian coals (Goodarzi and Swaine,1994) , it is proposed that the terms identifying the degrees of salinity and their associated boron concentrations should be changed to fresh water (F), mildly brackish water (MB) and brackish water (B). The new range and categories are.

Up to 50ppm boron: fresh water-influenced coals (F).
50 to 110ppm boron: mildly brackish-water influenced coals (MB).
> 110ppm boron: brackish-water influenced coals (B).

According to above classifications it may be concluded that the Jharkhand coals, which contain low boron, content, were fresh- water influenced during the early stages of coalification.


Author is grateful to Mr. F. Goodarzi, Geological Survey of Canada, for his useful suggestions to improve the paper.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Did warming helped water to vanish from Mars?

Will our Earth will look same as Mars in future?
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

When I began studying Environmental Geology, I was told that the depletion of water, global warming crisis are going to be the most important issues the planet Earth would have to face in coming decades or centuries.
The political pundits were not impressed. After years of neglect, global warming and water depletion have suddenly become matters of wide spread international concern. Water is depleting, desert is expanding and lots more.

You must be now thinking that why I am writing on such issues which is related to Earth and not to Mars. Answer is below.

According to latest concept it is now clear that Mars once definitely supported a watery environment. It is clear from the pictures that Mars is covered with features that are best explained by the movement of water, either in catastrophic floods or the slow movement of groundwater.

If the water really existed on the Mars, which is now proved by different pictures, then where all the waters vanished? Was it the effect of warming or climate change which helped the water to escape from atmosphere? Our Earth is also passing through the same phase. If all the water from our atmosphere escapes, will our Earth will look same as Mars, devoid of water and life.

My concern is hidden in the present environmental condition of the Mars which is now devoid of water and life. Is our Earth is going to become desert like that of Mars in coming centuries.
Many of you must be thinking that my theory is merely hypothetical and nothing like this is going to happen to Earth. Future of Earth can never be Mars

It may be speculations but we must have to think seriously to save our planet for our coming generations. Really what happened to the water on Mars no body knows.
Evidences of ancient water on Mars:

Photo credits: NASA

It’s dustier than the road to death, colder than the devil’s kiss. Like much of Mars, the butter scotch plain is inhospitable, empty, ancient and dull.

Mars has always exerted a powerful attraction for people on Earth. Every two years it disappears, to stage a spectacular reappearance some time later as a fiery red object in the sky. Its blood-red color has inspired terror and war. In Hindu mythology this planet governs the health and carrier of humans.

It was only after the theoretical work Copernicus at the end of 15th century, and the observations Galileo at the beginning of the 17th, that Mars became just another world.
The quest for water on Mars has motivated many geologists and astronomers. The space probes have shown definitively that the amount of water vapor in the Martian atmosphere is only 0.003%. If it were to be condensed, it would form a layer on the surface with a thickness of just one-tenth of a millimeter.
The atmospheric composition is 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, and only 0.1% oxygen: utterly unsuitable for any animal life.

Despite their disappointment, astronomers have not been discouraged. There was considerable surprise when the Viking Orbiters that had accompanied the Landers to Mars revealed other Martian landscapes. These Orbiters took 51,000 photographs of the surface, some of which had a resolution of as little as 10m. The photographs, distributed in the form of magnetic tapes to the principal research institutes around the world, have enabled us to study the whole of the Martian globe. Its general appearance is that of a inanimate, cold, desert world. But there are some notable features, including volcanoes, one of which, Olympus Mons, with a base 700 km across and a height of 27000 m, is the largest in the whole solar system. There are enormous impact basins, such as Argyre, which is 600 km in diameter and 1000 m deep.

Above all, however, the great surprise was the dried-up river-beds, some as much as 15 km wide, and whose discharge must have been 1000 times that of the Amazon, our greatest river! If liquid water existed on Mars in such quantity, would there not have been a denser atmosphere, which would imply a far more temperate climate, perhaps favorable to the spontaneous appearance of life?

In previous centuries, astronomers thought that the dark areas they saw on Mars through their telescopes might be seas, and, at the end of the 19th century there was much speculation, led by Percical Lowell, about the possibility of Martian canals. By the the early decades of this century, however, it had become clear, because of the very low atmospheric pressure, that little or no surface water could exist on the Red Planet today. In 1969, Mariner 9 provided the first strong evidence that liquid water had flowed on the surface of Mars in the remote past. Among the thousands of images it sent back from orbit were those of flat-floored channels with eroded banks, sand bars and teardrop-shaped islands, channels with second- and third-order tributary systems, and braided channels which, had they been encountered on Earth, would unhesitatingly have been attributed to episodic flooding. Later probes have added to the evidence of water-carved channels and other features on Mars. The fact that Mars had flowing water implies that conditions on the planet were once very different than they are today. Yet, curiously, there are no signs that it ever rained on the fourth planet. The water-carved systems on Mars are short and stubby, dividing little upstream, and ending abruptly as if the water had suddenly appeared at that spot rather than having fallen over a large area and become collected. The assumption is that the Martian water erupted from beneath the surface, welling up as a result of volcanic eruptions or asteroid impacts, and then flooded to form channels, and lakes, and perhaps even seas. Seeing the large amounts of fossilized evidences of the ancient water flow, it can also be assumed that water flowed in this red planet in the remote past and gradually vanished from the planet either due to global warming, which our Earth is facing today, or due to some other factors like geological or climate change.

How much liquid water existed on Mars in the past, and when? Does liquid water exist on Mars today? These are questions that fascinate scientists, especially astrobiologists, because they have a direct bearing on whether there was once life on Mars and, if so, whether it has survived to the present day. For this we have to search for fossils. The biological exploration of Mars is based on the idea that life appeared on that planet four billion years ago. Subsequently, it either disappeared 3.8 billion years ago (which is why we need to search for fossils), or else adapted to current conditions.

A large lake in the southern highlands of Mars is thought to have overflowed about 3.5 billion years ago, gouging out canyon as the torrent headed north and then spilled into the crater, forming a new lake. More evidences of catastrophic floods indicate ancient water flow on the surface of the red planet.

Images taken by Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) have provided some of the best evidence yet that water still occasionally flows on the Martian surface. Two gullies on the inside of craters, which were originally photographed by MGS in 1999 and 2001, and imaged again in 2004 and 2005, showed changes consistent with water flowing down the crater walls,

Other scientists, however, have challenged this explanation, pointing out that the gullies, and many others like them discovered by MGS, could have been caused not by water but by liquid carbon dioxide. The atmosphere of Mars is so thin and the temperature so cold that liquid water couldn't persist at the surface but would rapidly evaporate or freeze. Liquid carbon dioxide, on the other hand, has a lower freezing point (-56.6°C) and could stay liquid on the surface longer.

Striking new images of the Red Planet have raised hopes life could be found on Mars after all.

Scientists say they have photographic evidence that suggests liquid water may have been on the planet as little as five years ago.

In some of the pictures released by NASA, structures resembling to deltas formed on our Earth adds more evidence of water flow in past.

Whatever may be the truth, but it is now sure that there are ample of evidences that water did existed on this planet. According to the recent theories there are some fresh evidences of water flow. To me these are the ancient waters which were trapped in the remote past beneath the surface and which flow out from time to time carving latest flow structures on the upper surface of the red planet.

Where all the water went is an important question to scientists piecing together the planet’s geologic history. Perhaps some water seeped into the ground and froze, wound up in polar ice, or was lost from the atmosphere, but scientists can’t account for all of it.
Today, based on our observations from orbit, Mars appears to be very dry. There is little water in the atmosphere and only a small amount of water ice in evidence on the surface. Yet the planet is covered with features that are best explained by the movement of water, either in catastrophic floods or the slow movement of groundwater. Whether that water was present early in the history of Mars and was lost to space over eons, or is still present in great underground deposits of ice and groundwater, is a question whose answer must be left for the future exploration of Mars.

National Geographic Magazine, Jan. 2004. Mars, Is there life in the ancient ice?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mysterious burst of light in Universe.

A mysterious flash of light from somewhere near or far in the universe is still keeping astronomers in the dark long after it was first detected by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in 2006. It might represent an entirely new class of stellar phenomena that has previously gone undetected in the universe, say researchers.
Astronomers commonly observe intense flashes of light from a variety of stellar explosions and outbursts, such as novae and supernovae. Hubble discovered the cosmic flash on February 21, 2006. It steadily rose in brightness for 100 days, and then dimmed back to oblivion after another 100 days.
The rise and fall in brightness has a signature that simply has never been recorded for any other type of celestial event. Supernovae peak after no more than 70 days, and gravitational lensing events are much shorter. Therefore, this observation defies a simple explanation, reports Kyle Barbary of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in Berkeley, Calif. He is describing the bizarre Hubble observation at the 213th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Long Beach, Calif. "We have never seen anything like it," he concludes.
The spectral fingerprints of light coming from the object, cataloged as SCP 06F6, also have eluded identification as being due to any specific element. One guess is that the features are redshifted molecular carbon absorption lines in a star roughly one billion light-years away.
But searches through various astronomical survey catalogs for the source of the light have not uncovered any evidence for a star or galaxy at the location of the flash. The Supernova Cosmology Project at LBNL discovered it serendipitously in a search for supernovae.
Hubble was aimed at a cluster of galaxies 8 billion light-years away in the spring constellation Bootes. But the mystery object could be anywhere in between, even in the halo of our own Milky Way galaxy.
Papers published by other researchers since the event was reported in June 2006, have suggested a bizarre zoo of possibilities: the core collapse and explosion of a carbon rich star, a collision between a white dwarf and an asteroid, or the collision of a white dwarf with a black hole.
But Barbary does not believe that any model offered so far fully explains the observations. "I don't think we really know what the discovery means until we can observe similar objects in the future."
All-sky surveys for variable phenomena, such as those to be conducted with the planned Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, may ultimately find similar transient events in the universe.
Ray Villard Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md. 410-338-4514
Kyle Barbary University of California Berkeley/Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Berkeley, Calif. 510-486-4652 /

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hubble Finds Hidden Exoplanet in Archival Data.

In 19 years of observations, the Hubble Space Telescope has amassed a huge archive of data--an archive that may contain the telltale glow of undiscovered extrasolar planets. Such is the case with this image--one of three extrasolar planets orbiting the young star HR 8799--which is 130 light-years away. The planetary trio was originally discovered in images taken with the Keck and Gemini North telescopes in 2007 and 2008. But using a new image processing technique that suppresses the glare of the parent star, scientists found the telltale glow of the outermost planet in the system while studying Hubble archival data taken in 1998. The giant planet is young and hot, but still only 1/100,000th the brightness of its parent star. By comparison, Jupiter is one-billionth the brightness of our sun.
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Forest fires have become a wildcard in the global-warming game.

Carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere due to forest fire.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
Fires in Eastern India and Northwest Burma
[Fig.1 Scores of active fires were burning in eastern India and the mountainous provinces of northwest Burma (Myanmar) on March 9, 2009, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite passed overhead and captured this photo-like image. Locations where the sensor detected active fires are outlined in red. Agricultural and other land-maintenance fires are common in the area this time of year (dry season), so many of these fires were probably intentionally started by people. However, as in all parts of the world, intentional fires occasionally get out of control. Some of the larger or smokier fires in this scene could be accidental forest fires.Image credit: Jeff Schmaltz, NASA's MODIS Rapid Response TeamText credit: Rebecca Lindsey, NASA's Earth Observatory.]
Forest Fires in Nepal
[Fig. 2. On March 12, 2009, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite caught a glimpse of a relatively rare event: large–scale forest fires in the Himalaya Mountains of Nepal. Places where the sensor detected active fires are outlined in red. The numerous small fires in southern Nepal may not be wildfires, but rather agricultural or other land-management fires.The image is centered on Nepal, and it shows the towering Himalaya Mountains arcing through the small country. Many national parks and conservation areas are located along the northern border of the country, and the fires appear to be burning in or very near some of them. Five people were killed by the forest fire southwest of Annapurna in early March; according to a news report they were overtaken while in the forest gathering firewood. According to that report, Nepal commonly experiences some small forest fires each spring, which is the end of the dry season there. However, conditions during the fall and winter of 2008 and 2009 were unusually dry, and fires set by poachers to flush game may have gotten out of control.Image credit: Jeff Schmaltz, NASA's MODIS Rapid Response TeamText credit: Rebecca Lindsey, NASA's Earth Observatory ]

Fires in West Africa
[Fig. 3. Agricultural and other land-management or trash-burning fires are widespread across West Africa in the dry season. This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on March 17, 2009, shows scores of fires (locations marked in red) burning in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Although agricultural burning such as this is not necessarily immediately hazardous, it can have a major impact on air quality and human health, climate, and natural resources.
Image credit: Jeff Schmaltz, NASA's MODIS Rapid Response TeamText credit: Rebecca Lindsey, NASA's Earth Observatory]
Imagining Earth without forests is a horrifying picture to conceive. As its knowledge base has expanded and deepened, mankind has realised that forests are extremely important to the survival of humans and other life forms on earth. Yet deforestation in the form of forest fire continues unabated in different parts of the world. According to the World Resource Institute based at Washington DC (U.S.A.), the rates of rainforest destruction are 2.4 acre per second, 149 acres per minute, 214000 acres per day and 78 million acres per year.

The forest is also vital as a watershed. Because of the thick humus layer, loose soil, and soil-retaining powers of the trees' long roots, forests are vitally important for preserving adequate water supplies. Almost all water ultimately feeds from forest rivers and lakes and from forest-derived water tables. In addition, the forest provides shelter for wildlife, recreation and aesthetic renewal for people, and irreplaceable supplies of oxygen and soil nutrients. Deforestation, particularly in the tropical rain forests, has become a major environmental concern, as it can destabilize the earth's temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide levels.

Besides being the source for food, plants help us in a number of other ways. Animals, including humans, inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide; plants take up carbon dioxide and in return they release oxygen – this exchange is very important. Forests in particular act as a huge carbon dioxide sink. If there were not enough trees to absorb carbon dioxide, its accumulation would make the environment poisonous. Over the last 150 years, the amount of carbon dioxide has increased.

While all living plant matter absorbs CO2 as part of photosynthesis, trees process significantly more than smaller plants due to their large size and extensive root structures. In essence, trees, as kings of the plant world, have much more “woody biomass” to store CO2 than smaller plants, and as a result are considered nature’s most efficient “carbon sinks.”

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), tree species that grow quickly and live long are ideal carbon sinks.

Forests are carbon stores, and they are carbon dioxide sinks when they are increasing in density or area. In Canada's boreal forests as much as 80% of the total carbon is stored in the soils as dead organic matter. A 40-year study of African, Asian, and South American tropical forests by the University of Leeds, shows tropical forests absorb about 18% of all carbon dioxide added by fossil fuels, thus buffering some effects of global warming. Tropical reforestation can mitigate global warming until all available land has been reforested with mature forests. About 70-80 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide are fixed annually by terrestrial and aquatic photoautotrophs.

Life expectancy of forests varies throughout the world, influenced by tree species, site conditions and natural disturbance patterns. In some forests carbon may be stored for centuries, while in other forests carbon is released with frequent stand replacing fires.

From the last hundred years forests are being reduced drastically due to forest fire, the most common hazard in forests. Though the forests fires are as old as the forests
themselves, but in recent years the incidence of forest fire, either man made or natural, has increased many fold.
They pose a threat not only to the forest wealth but also to the entire regime to fauna and flora seriously disturbing the bio-diversity and the ecology and environment of a region. During summer, when there is no rain for months, the forests become littered with dry senescent leaves and twinges, which could burst into flames ignited by the slightest spark.
The burning of forest trees gives off not only carbon dioxide but also a host of other, noxious gases (Green house gases) such as carbon monoxide, methane, hydrocarbons, nitric oxide and nitrous oxide, that lead to global warming and ozone layer depletion. Consequently, thousands of people suffered from serious respiratory problems due to these toxic gases. Burning forests and grasslands also add to already serious threat of global warming. Recent measurement suggest that biomass burning may be a significant global source of methyl bromide, which is an ozone depleting chemical.
Wild land fires are taking tons of carbon out of storage and feeding it into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, a primary greenhouse gas.
Usually it is cars, factories and power stations that are most often mentioned as sources of carbon dioxide (CO2), a gas which traps heat in the atmosphere. Trees, considered the "lungs of the planet", soak the gas up. But what if they burn?
Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow and climatologists see forests as carbon "sinks" - places where large amounts of that element are stored. When they burn, whether in forest fires or as logs in a stove, it is released.
In the atmosphere, CO2 is the main gas which contributes to the greenhouse effect - trapping the earth's heat which would otherwise be radiated into space.
The latest UN report on global warming says temperatures will rise by a best estimate of 1.8 to 4.0 Celsius (3 to 7 Fahrenheit) this century and sea levels will rise by between 18 and 59 centimetres. The resulting hotter, drier summers.
Bushfires that have scorched Australia's Victoria state released millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide and forest fires could become a growing source of carbon pollution as the planet warms.
A raging forest fire in the Saranda forest, one of the largest Sal forests in Asia, of Jharkhand State of India has become a cause of concern for locals as well as the authorities. According to recent reports large area has been covered with fire. From the last two decades we already are seeing the effects of global warming in Jharkhand State. From last several years Jharkhand is facing extremes of the climate. Earlier thick forest cover played major role in absorbing excess carbon dioxide and balancing the temperature difference. But unfortunately due to deforestation in large scale in Jharkhand, carbon dioxide may have increased in the atmosphere many fold.

During the 1997-98 El Nino 20M hectares burnt. This one event released 2.6 billion tons of carbon - the highest annual increase since measurements began. They were so massive that the output of CO2 from combustion reached 40% of the world total. This happened again in 2006.
Indonesian fires have shown us that catastrophic events in small areas can release vast amounts that have been locked away for millennia.
The WWF said about 10 million hectares of forest were burned in the 1997 forest fires, releasing about 2.57 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, making Indonesia the world’s third-largest emitter after the United States and China.
There has been a four-fold jump in the average number of wildfires beginning, a process that began in the mid-1980s. The total area being burned is six and a half times greater, and the length of the bush fire season has been extended by 75 percent. In South-East Asia, in Russia and in the Amazon the extent of bush fires has increased.