|Naturally occurring nodules.
These nodules of native (naturally occurring) aluminum were found by alert reader Ann Lovgren on the shores of Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. Now wait a minute, there is no such thing as native aluminum, is there? In fact aluminum is famous for not occurring natively: Despite being the third most abundant element in the earth's crust, accounting for over 8% of the total weight of the crust, it was completely unknown as a metal until 1825 when small, precious samples were first isolated from ore.
But I claim these modules are just as naturally occurring as, say, the white cliffs of Dover. Both are the unintended side effects of life going about its business. The white limestone cliffs that line the English channel around the city of Dover are the remnants of microscopic algae that lived in the ancient seas for countless millions of years. These aluminum nodules are the remnants of aluminum cans, melted down in camp fires over countless dozens of years since the late 1960's when aluminum beverage cans became common.
Just as the cliffs took eons to build to their towering heights, so too will the fields of aluminum nodules slowly grow and spread, washing up on distant beaches millennia after they were formed by the slow but inexorable process of teenagers eliminating the evidence of their lake side beer binges.
Source: Ann Lovgren
Contributor: Ann Lovgren
Acquired: 10 July, 2006
Text Updated: 13 August, 2006