Volcanic ash consists of rock, mineral, and volcanic glass fragments smaller than 2 mm (0.1 inch) in diameter, which is slightly larger than the size of a pinhead. Volcanic ash is not the same as the soft fluffy ash that results from burning wood, leaves, or paper. It is hard, does not dissolve in water, and can be extremely small, ash particles less than 0.025 mm (1/1,000th of an inch) in diameter are common.
Ash is extremely abrasive, similar to finely crushed window glass, mildly corrosive, and electrically conductive, especially when wet.
Volcanic ash is created during explosive eruptions by the shattering of solid rocks and violent separation of magma (molten rock) into tiny pieces. Explosive eruptions are generated when ground water is heated by magma and abruptly converted to steam and also when magma reaches the surface so that volcanic gases dissolved in the molten rock expand and escape (explode) into the air extremely rapidly. After being blasted into the air by expanding steam and other volcanic gases, the hot ash and gas rise quickly to form a towering eruption column directly above a volcano.
Close view of a single ash particle from the eruption of Mount St. Helens; image is from a scanning electron microscope (SEM). The tiny voids or "holes" are called vesicles and were created by expanding gas bubbles during the eruption of magma.
Information courtesy of the USGS Website
I bet your wondering why I just gave a definition for volcanic ash.. Matt Crowley has been using volcanic ash for his preferred substrate when doing his work to debunk the "Onion Mountain cast." Why is this such an issue for me? Well, I will tell you.
After 10 phone calls to the USGS and the NRCS, I had a few questions answered. My argument all along is simply this "If you are going to prove or disprove something, you should be as accurate to the original as possible". Matt Crowley early on started out with Plaster of Paris - but quickly moved on to other casting agents such as Hydrocal, and the soil he is using to test in is volcanic ash, along with other substrates I will add, but when he challenged me - the specific challenge was to use volcanic ash.
After these phone calls and discussions with soil survey scientists (who know what they are talking about) I have discovered the amount of volcanic ash in the soil in and around the Onion Mountain cast area is not even registered as a factor. There is no mention of this in any of the most recent reports dated 1979 and approved in 1984. These soil samples also predate the Mount St Helens erruption, and there was not an active volcano in that area during the time this cast was made.
I also discovered volcanic ash breaks down fairly quickly. In as little as 2 years, it can have a whole new chemical make-up and/or structure.
So, what does this mean?
I am currently in the process of trying to obtain this soil to test for "crowley lines". Will I get them? I dont know, but I will report all of my findings and keep everyone up to date.
I would like to thank Mr. Crowley for suggesting I challenge myself and do these tests for myself as that was very good advice. Am I nit picking Matt Crowleys work? No, I really do not think so, as my questions are valid, right on target, and have yet to be explained. If these "crowley lines" are so easily duplicated - why didnt I get them? I dont know.
It would be nice to know which casts and which artifacts were found in which substrates using which medium, like with a chart. I will be testing Plaster of Paris in hopefully typical soil from the Onion Mt. area with the method described to me by John Green, under the conditions he remembers.
Obviously Matt (Crowley) has found that under certain curcumstances these lines can appear. I don't know if he can describe what conditions will prevent them from appearing, however. I feel that both are needed to fully understand what is taking place.
So the real question is, with the materials, conditions and method employed by John Green in 1967 on Onion Mt., N. Cal. could these lines have been introduced artifically; not really something that was in the original tracks?
To be Continued........