Black Magnetic Spherule Fallout in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico

Science  10 Dec 1976:
Vol. 194, Issue 4270, pp. 1157-1159
DOI: 10.1126/science.194.4270.1157-a


Large numbers of black metallic spherules ranging in diameter from a few micrometers to over 800 micrometers are raining into the eastern Gulf of Mexico and adjacent areas of western Florida. The composition of the flux, its association with glass spherules and coky particles, and its magnitude point to industrial pollution, probably coal- and coke-burning facilities around the perimeter of the gulf, as the source. Since metallic particles represent only a small fraction of most fly ash, such an influx of large numbers of black magnetic spherules must be symptomatic of a much higher rate of sedimentation of fly ash. The internal microstructures and the general appearance of spherules derived from industrial processes are similar to those of particles derived from cosmic sources. Because of the high potential for contamination in micrometeorite studies, a complete compositional verification of each "cosmic" particle may be necessary.