Sunday, May 15, 2016


Imagine pores in a human skin. If you wish, imagine blackheads in pores in human skin. Now imagine each dark pore is teeming with life forms, and each one contains a slightly different and isolated ecosystem.

You'd have a one disgusting world, wouldn't you?  Or myriad disgusting microworlds.

There is a similar phenomenon in the world's glaciers, and there is a 3-page, illustrated story about it in this month's DISCOVER magazine. The authors of that article mention man-made global warming, and say that the cryoconite phenomenon is exacerbating the melting of the glaciers.

As I read about the sticky airborne bacteria flying through the air, gathering up dark dust and fragments of salts and minerals and black waterbears, then landing on glacial ice and absorbing sunlight into the dark matter and thus melting tiny holes the ice like road salt does on iced roads, I thought of all the recent volcanic activity.

I don't think the article mentioned volcanic ash, but the focus was on how the tiny dark pools form, and how ecosystems are created and fed by sunlight and photosynthesis, and how the dark dust sinks to the bottom, attracting warmth and sunlight, and increasing in size, and life thrives and evolves.

Volcanoes seemed more likely to me, especially since there was Eyjafjallojokull in 2010 (which shut down most of the European airports for several days) and then the biggest series of Icelandic volcanic eruptions in centuries through 2014, and more in 2015.  One can find a list of which volcanoes are currently erupting here: and more about volcanoes here: 

How can one talk about dark dust on glaciers and not talk about volcanoes?

So, I googled "volcanoes + cryoconite", and sure enough, someone--Patrick R Dugan PhD-- has written an excellent and highly informative book about the effect of volcanoes on "climate change" and on glaciers.

With my copyright activist hat on for a moment, I have to express my astonishment that Google displays over 40 consecutive pages of a 64 page book that is in copyright and for sale on Amazon. How that is an insignificant snippet of the work that cannot affect sales... is beyond my comprehension.

As one might expect, volcanoes throw up an uncommon mixture of minerals, salts, fragments of rock,  ash, dust, and no doubt bits of whatever happened to be living on the top or side of the mountain before it erupted. That explains the waterbears in the air!

As a writer of alien romances, I imagine alien worlds from time to time, and --forgive me if I've mentioned it previously-- I like the idea of multiple ecosystems developing in parallel, and in otherwise hostile surroundings.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

1 comment:

  1. I rather like that idea too! It is a fascinating concept, I think...