This blog provides commentary on interesting geological events occurring around the world in the context of my own work. This work is, broadly, geological fluid dynamics. The events that I highlight here are those that resonate with my professional life and ideas, and my goal is to interpret them in the context of ideas I've developed in my research. The blog does not represent any particular research agenda. It is written on a personal basis and does not seek to represent the University of Illinois, where I am a professor of geology and physics. Enjoy Geology in Motion! I would be glad to be alerted to geologic events of interest to post here! I hope that this blog can provide current event materials that will make geology come alive.

Banner image is by Ludie Cochrane..

Susan Kieffer can be contacted at s1kieffer at gmail.com

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Great meteor fireball over Bangkok

From BBC.
I don't know if the link below will work, but if it does, it's a great video of a meteor in the sky over Bangkok. I've never seen a fireball trail that "bursts" several times as this one does. In the image at the left, the thin tail in the upper right is the remnant of at the first burst at high altitude, the center one is stye second, and the left one is just appearing. The meteor appears to have burned up shortly after the third burst appears. Easier to see on the video than to describe!


If the link doesn't work, Google "Fireball meteor lights up Bangkok skies" on BBC.com.

I guess that I should speculate on what is causing this (though I suspect that there's a literature out there somewhere that I can't find.)  As the meteor enters the atmosphere, friction causes it to heat up and glow brighter and brighter.  If the part of the crust that is heated spalls off, it would perhaps cause the rapid brightening burst as well as expose a cold interior. That cold interior is then exposed to the atmosphere, friction heats it up, and it spalls off again to form the second burst.  The cold nucleus then heats up to form the third, and final, burst.

Rule of thumb is that "shooting stars" are about the size of a pea. So, maybe this meteor that caused the triple burst was the size of a....golf ball?? Input welcome!