Quartz Sand Silliness

I was checking up on the meaning of the phrase “Granite-wash” that is the source rock for natural gas in Oklahoma and Texas.  It seems that some deep drilling was done years ago and the hole stopped in molten sulphur at depth, and somehow the conclusion made that the drilling bit melted due to being immersed in the liquid sulphur.

But I digress and ‘granite-wash’ ? It’s a sediment derived from the erosion of granite and consisting of sand sized particles, hence sandstone, ahem. Problem.

Chemically weather granite as observed in Western Australia and you end up with clays but no sand. I’ve drilled enough holes in granite looking for gold to make that statement as fact. So to get quartz grains and presumably feldspar grains as well, requires a non-chemical or slightly chemically eroding process to yield distinct crystals of quartz and feldspar to act as the primary source of the sandstone to be deposited elsewhere. It is assumed the granite is a topographic high since you need a gradient to move the released quartz grains, etc., down the drainage systems to allow comminution of the grains to reduce them into sand sized particles.

And if a large quartz crystal is going to be reduced in size by attrition, then the products of this process need to be accounted for as deposits of, say, siliceous material such as chert?  In other words quartz crystal ==> smaller crystal + siliceous dust or smaller qtz crystals.  And if it is a fluvial environment in which the water coats the quartz grains (quartz is hydrophilic) then the grains are actually protected from collision by a liquid coating, so fluvial transport actually does not have the ways and means of attritioning quartz into smaller particles. While this can be done in a standard metallurgical mill, where steel balls are used to grind the rock into smaller size fractions, no such mechanisms exist in nature; rivers are not ball-mills.

And I know from extensive personal experience that the bed-loads in sand choked drainages also do not move downstream but stay in place in the channel depressions over which the active bed load, usually as lag gravels, travel.  Totally counter intuitive but a fact none the less.

A distraction. Some years back I edited some scientific papers for a Russian scientist on kimberlite genesis, published in the New Concepts of Global Tectonics Newsletter, now a journal, and he was a little apprehensive about my theoretical stance as a former De Beers geologist and my assumption that kimberlites were deep seated mantle originated rocks.  The Russian observation was that kimberlites seemed chemically to be near surface phenomena, akin to a variation of acid volcanics, and not deep sourced as we in De Beers assumed.

The Russian view was that kimberlites were near surface phenomena produced by external electrical effects of by-passing bolides or meteors. Or as I now understand it, near surface plasma effects.  I should point out that I no longer accept the idea that kimberlites are initiated at depth but are first formed at the Earth’s surface and then tunnel downwards towards the mantle, where pressure release then results in an uprush of kimberlite magma, and if one is lucky, the occasional diamond. In addition I suspect that electric discharge also has a role and the source of the kimberlite might be more shallow as the Russians suggest from chemical characteristics. Here the increased electric field strength may push the diamond-graphite stability boundary upwards to zones of less confining pressure, if such a situation exists at all.

The other problem is no one has seen a kimberlite erupt, so it’s all educated guessing.

So let’s cut to the chase and muse that the “granite-wash” isn’t a sediment produced by fluvial action, but a volcanogenic sediment emplaced by a fluidic process derived from the plasma machining of gneissic and granitic rocks.

About Louis Hissink

Retired diamond exploration geologist. I spent my professional life looking for mineral deposits, found some, and also located a number of kimberlites in NSW and Western Australia. Exploration geology is the closest one can get to practicing the scientific method, mineral exploration always being concerned with finding anomalous geophysical or geochemical data, framing a model and explanation for the anomaly and then testing it with drilling or excavation. All scientific theories are ultimately false since they invariably involved explaining something with incomplete extant knowledge. Since no one is omniscient or knows everything, so too scientific theories which are solely limited to existing knowledge. Because the future always yields new data, scientific theories must change to be compatible with the new data. Thus a true scientist is never in love with any particular theory, always knowing that when the facts change, so too must he/she change their minds.
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5 Responses to Quartz Sand Silliness

  1. Thx1138 says:

    “The other problem is no one has seen a kimberlite erupt, so it’s all educated guessing.”

    I thought there were witnesses to the rainbow serpent.


  2. Edward says:


    This short experimental video got me thinking about asteroid/cometary discharges and craters/kimberlites once again.

    At 1 minute in you see a small 10,000 volt current burn a pathway through a salt water treated pine board (Establishing current from craton surface to upper mantle through pre-existing mineralised dikes/ sills/faults?)

    At 6 minutes in creation of typical “bullseye” crater. (Thinking of the numerous craters on the moon and the curious Russian hill feature perhaps?)

    From 6:30 on an interesting upwards vertical draw of material into tubular columns (Kimberlite pipe fields?)

    Could it be possible that the extreme voltages and immense charges from large NEO Apollo type asteroids or comets passing earth could actually be involved in drawing material up from the upper mantle through the established electrical pipes rather than some extreme and unexplainable pressure gradient originating in the mantle?

    Thanks Louis… Always a pleasure reading your thoughts! ~ Edward


    • Edward,
      The explanation using a near-passing comet/bolide/meteor interacting electrically with the Earth was proposed by Russian scientists Konstantin-Khazanovitch-Wulff and published in the NCGT newsletter some years back. I came to a similar conclusion with kimberlite genesis once I studied Barbara Scott-Smith’s vortex mechanism for kimberlite diatreme formation. She did not invoke and external agent, however, but I have and it’s very likely that catastrophic encounters between the Earth and some external body short circuiting the solar current flow would “screw” into the Earth and release upper mantle rocks and minerals. Those past events would have been associated with the planets (venus, mars etc.) forming the basis of the Greek and Roman gods stories. This explanation is considered heresy.

      Unfortunately invoking external causes to explain geological features causes incoherent conniptions in the geological fraternity since they assumed they have finally eliminated the divine from geology as a science, the divine here being a metaphor for external agents causing earthly surface features.

      It would be interesting to conduct an experiment applying high voltages to clays etc forming the completely weathered layer on top of granitic rocks, and whether this clay can produce small quartz grains. These clays could occur as remnants of the old land surface such as mesas and if a mesa has a granitic base under it, or is made of granitic rocks with an upper clay zone, then that material would be a good source material for electrical experimentation. In fact any clay layer just below the top of any Mesa in your neck of the woods would be suitable.

      Question is can application of high voltage etc transform clay into quartz grains?

      Amazing experiments conducted in the videos!


      • Edward says:


        Once again I find myself in complete agreement with all of your observations.

        As for future experimentation one can only imagine the results that might be achieved by scaling up these kinds of experiments with voltages approaching those found in high energy electrons in the outer VAB of 0.1 to 10MeV. At least fusion research is finally heading in the right direction by examining zeta pinch containment.


        As for heresy… IMO Greek and Roman mythology clearly descends from much more ancient Mesopotamian (proto-Sumerian to Chaldean) and Egyptian mythology. The primary Greek and Roman gods where, as David Talbot observed, largely the same gods of older civilizations with different names. But the first gods recorded were the celestial sky gods and their appearance usually immediately preceded or coincided with major catastrophes.

        As for close encounters with comets/asteroids and electrical discharge events witnessed on earth, evidence for this is found in petroglyphs. petrographs and other art throughout the holocene. Extreme climate change and civilizational collapse (also rise) usually followed. These events correspond well to Greenland ice core markers.

        And as for current dating techniques? Here’s some 53 million year old non-fossilized metasequoia wood found in(???!) an Ekati kimberlite pipe that looks better than my neighbour’s deck lol!

        Again thanks for your reply ~ Edward


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