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Strange molten metal found on Columbia

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Re: Strange molten metal found on Columbia

Postby crossfitter » Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:29 pm

The most likely reason for an O2 tank left on a 14er I can think of would be that it was lost/abandoned during a SAR mission.
- A mountain is not a checkbox to be ticked
- Alpinism and mountaineering are not restricted to 14,000 foot mountains
- Judgment and experience are the two most important pieces of gear you own
- Being honest to yourself and others about your abilities is a characteristic of experienced climbers
- Courage cannot be bought at REI or carried with you in your rucksack


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Re: Strange molten metal found on Columbia

Postby milan » Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:34 pm

Oldskool70 wrote:K. Lets go with ALUMINUM slag for now. Although we lack the reminents of a container, could a amateur carefully carry a flash powder mix up the mountain and safely light it? What I've read on these aluminum mixtures is you don't want to have a lot of friction or large amount of the mixture in general without having a MAJOR safety issue. We are probably talking about two+ pounds worth of "mixture". Any chemists out there like to add there thoughts?


I am chemist although professionally organic/biochemistry, I used to play with metals a lot, this one is actually some of those low-temperature melting metals. From just the picture, I can't tell for sure which one but it can be tin (mp. 230 Celsius) Lead (mp 330 C), Zinc (mp. 420 C), Aluminum (660 C). All of them will melt in a campfire or on the stove (Aluminum is kind of a border of it but it still will melt). Also, this might be an alloy of some of them, sometimes they are mixed with bismuth. An easy source might be - someone brought a car batery and put it on fire (?why?), brought a mass of metall and dumped it into a fire? Melted tin in a pan? Lightning stroke a solit piece of this metal?
Anyways, the main mass is not iron or anything that melts above 1000 C, its definately not natural (no mineral) and its very likely not a part of any pyrotechnics (it would be done very badly, because metals should burn into oxides). Someone might played with aluminothermia (thermites) but those I tried myself looked differently, several pounds of aluminothermic metal would originate pretty much from huge amount like a bucket of initial mixture.
Simple experiment at home - take a small chunk of it, take it into tweezers and try to melt it in the flame from gas stove (not bunsen burner, this would be too fast). Tin melts almost instantly, lead little later, it takes minutes for Zinc and a long time for aluminum (ant it might burn first).
My bet - its aluminum.

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Re: Strange molten metal found on Columbia

Postby milan » Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:45 pm

And another easy thing to do, measure the density, it will differ between those metals well too. You have such big chunks that you will have no problem to use kitchen equipment. Take something that has the scale, fill it with water (halfway, lets say 500 mL), put the metal into it, find the final volume, subtract 500 mL. Then weight the metal on scales and density = mass/Volume (please, use grams and milliliters, forget about ounzes and pounds; or give me the raw numbers :)...

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Re: Strange molten metal found on Columbia

Postby roguejackalope » Wed Oct 26, 2011 3:00 pm

milan wrote:And another easy thing to do, measure the density, it will differ between those metals well too. You have such big chunks that you will have no problem to use kitchen equipment. Take something that has the scale, fill it with water (halfway, lets say 500 mL), put the metal into it, find the final volume, subtract 500 mL. Then weight the metal on scales and density = mass/Volume (please, use grams and milliliters, forget about ounzes and pounds; or give me the raw numbers :)...

I don't think this would be very accurate, with all the granite trapped on the underside.

I'd be happy to do a compositional analysis on one of the pieces, or even a tiny fragment, if you were interested. PM me if you want.

Lightning seems like a good explanation since it was on a ridge, but I'm not convinced that's it either.
"Hiking is just walking where it's okay to pee" - Demetri Martin

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Re: Strange molten metal found on Columbia

Postby milan » Wed Oct 26, 2011 3:06 pm

The piece on the first picture seemed to be clean enough to me. Also, the difference in those metals densities is so wast that you may afford pretty large mistakes (Lead 11, zinc 7, aluminum 3) Agree, analysis will tell for sure.

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Re: Strange molten metal found on Columbia

Postby caveman_ug » Wed Oct 26, 2011 4:35 pm

Was my first thought as well but it was without any kind of regulator just a hose and a generic turn valve as if the person was simply planning to turn the valve and take a few puffs then turn it off and it was a veterans admin bottle at least thats what the tag said

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Re: Strange molten metal found on Columbia

Postby mannosteel » Wed Oct 26, 2011 5:41 pm

We were hiking a few years ago in a more remote area of Glacier that's known for lightening strikes. Very clear July day and we were the only ones on the trail from start to finish. Got to the top and we found a bunch of glass, cooled molten glass, scattered over the top of that peak. I believe it was broken glass that became molten after a strike...pretty cool stuff.
8)

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