Have you ever heard about ‘Popping Rocks’?! No? Well, believe it or not but there lies deep within the ocean a special variety of rock that pops and explodes when brought to the surface. Strange, isn’t it? However, you won’t say so when you understand the science behind it. There is a candy named- Pop Rocks which has pressurised carbon dioxide gas bubbles embedded it, creating a small popping reaction when it dissolves in one’s mouth. The oceanic popping rocks have the same science behind them. The rocks contain carbon dioxide in them. Under water, the carbon dioxide is pressurised to high levels. When they are brought to the surface, the pressure is lifted suddenly and the carbon dioxide expands bursting the rocks to smithereens.
Northeastern University’s student Harry Brodsky went 3,300 kilometres down in the deep sea, in a submarine named Alvin. Brodsky is a fifth year student studying Geology, Physics and Mechanical Engineering. He spent, thirty days along the coast of Brazil and collected around 200 pounds of popping rocks during the expedition. The crew’s mission was to collect and examine rocks from the mid-Atlantic ridge, an underwater mountain range that extends from pole to pole. To reach it, crew members took a submarine nearly two miles down to the ocean floor. The point of the expedition was to better understand the carbon levels in the earth’s mantle, the layer of the planet just below the surface. These rocks are important because the bubbles inside them contain gas. When asked about his views, Brodsky said,
“I think they asked me to go down in the submarine because they knew I could spot the rocks we needed. You’re only sinking for a couple of minutes and it’s completely black. Then all of a sudden out of the window we could see the bioluminescent plankton.”