There are many wondrous geologic formations in nature, from Giant’s Causeway in Ireland to Castleton Tower in Utah, and the various processes by which such structures form is of longstanding interest for scientists. A team of applied mathematicians from New York University has turned its attention to the so-called “stone forests” common in certain regions of China and Madagascar. These pointed rock formations, like the famed Stone Forest in China’s Yunnan Province, are the result of solids dissolving into liquids in the presence of gravity, which produces natural convective flows, according to the NYU team. They described their findings in a recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Co-author Leif Ristroph told Ars that his group at NYU’s Applied Math Lab became interested in studying stone forests (technically a type of karst topography ) by a somewhat indirect route. They were using simulations and experiments to explore the interesting shapes that evolve in landscapes due to a number of “shaping” processes, most notably erosion and dissolving. Further Reading Popular Utah rock-climbing spot vibrates in time with earth, wind, and waves “We first discovered the spikes formed by dissolution when we left candy in a water… Read full this story
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