Report by John Mackay August 9 2016  Comments to
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Joseph leaf


Puzzle to be did the fossil leaves (pictured above) found trapped in a bridge stalagmite by Joseph Hubbard under Weeley Bridge Essex earlier this year, get blown onto the mite and quickly trapped in the CaCO3 drippings, without also being either blown off the mite or decaying, thus leaving no fossil in either case?

1. I have adapted our second tite machine to attempt to make fossil leaves in the calcium carbonate being formed at the lower end of the inclined orange pipe which concentrated all carbonate flow from the dripping tites into one location. I made this adaption Wed 13th July 2016, so all lime at the base of the orange tube in photos 1-6 (taken Friday 22nd July 2016) is one week old.


2. I next selected 3 leaves from our living fossil garden and placed them at the lower end of orange pipe.

Picture (below), was taken 5 minutes later, showing that within 5 mins, CaCO3 had begun to precipitate onto the leaves from the flow of lime rich water dripping from the stalactites.

Leaf Lime2

3. Picture at 20 mins with acid test producing effervesce proving the precipitate is fully CaCO.

Leaf Lime3

4. Picture at 2 hrs with leaves showing increasing white lime covering.

Leaf 4

5. 5hrs  shows even more carbonate precipitate.

Leaf 5

6a. Picture at 6.5 hrs showing the inclined leaf at the bottom of orange pipe is receiving more precipitate. The day ended at this point and all leaves had shown progressive increase in amts of lime onto the leaves.

Leaf 6

6b. At this 6.5 hr mark no movement of water saturated leaves was occurring, even though the leaves were in an open windy environment which also showed other plant debris having blown onto the experiment. This increase in organics should in a little while change the dull white lime formation to a yellow brown colour showing in the 4 week old tite at right, forming at the top end of the orange pipe, where the water has been dripping through forest mulch onto the inclined pipe. 

I did not expect results this quick, but it does explain how fast the Weeley Bridge leaves could have formed, when sceptics would argue it was technically impossible. It also seems reasonable to argue that in the 86yrs since the bridge was built, there has been abundant time to have at least one windy wet day.

Leaf water6a

PART 2 - Further investigation of rates.

7. Due to high evaporation rates and soakage by a sand barrier added to “pond water” the level in the lime pond dried up during a following day and a wind then blew two of the leaves away. The remaining leaf trapped at the pipe entry by the CaCO3 has been there since commencement of the experiment.

You will notice that other plant debris has blown onto the experiment and become trapped and at this point staining of the carbonate downstream from the leaves is becoming noticeable..

P1 pond water7

8. To replace 2 lost leaves Darryl Brenton added new leaves from our Jurassic Ark living fossil forest, including a Ginkgo and Araucaria.

The three pictures above and below (8 a,b,c) were taken over several days to show the rate of the accumulation of lime which is particularly high on the Ginkgo leaf. The rate of accumulation of carbonate is very high. It has hardened considerably in the time since commencement of the experiment.

New Leaf8a
New Leaf8b
The higher rate of precipitation on to the Ginko leaf (lower middle) may be because it has been ‘dead’ and fallen off the tree for longer and therefore more covered with bacteria. This issue needs to be investigated also.

New Leaf8c

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