The petrovite mineral consists of oxygen atoms, sodium sulfur and copper, which form a porous framework.

Volcanoes rank among the most destructive and awe-inspiring phenomena on the planet. They're the thought-to-be long-lived accretions formed by hot magma and the associated stone-rich rocks, or lava, spewing forth from them.

Large eruptions usually consume nearly everything in their path: everything that gets dissolved in the molten rock, everything that rises as vapor and everything that falls as lava (including people, if the eruption is to their last breath). Over time, after a massive eruption, the top of the world swings away from the surface, sitting viselike in the mantle, for a good long time.

But when the earth is healthy and strong enough, larger eruptions can destroy lava flows and create new lava flows (for instance, the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980 was a mega-eruption).

The magma at Mount Tolbachik is moving quickly. On April 9, ash plumes reached hundreds of feet in the air and rooftop rains dropped thousands of ugly cubes of volcanic glass onto the town of Zhukovskoye, some 21 miles away.0 When the ash plumes died down, scientists who monitored them for days thought they'd gone way above normal construction-hazard levels. The air thickened, and at that point where what looked like a hair-trigger until the first wave of clouds appeared, everyone seemed fine.

Sunday, researchers tracking the volcano came across something interesting: a bright red stone measurable 10 to 20 feet high on Mount Tolbachik. Mount Tolbachik's official lava lake is dark green, but mineralization in the volcano may have changed slightly by now. Algae and sponges are sucking muck out of the lake, the result of hand-held equipment going to town.

The weird, silvery mineral isn't coarse or consistence-sensitive,188 and Murray and colleagues believe the spike happened a long time before the cloud plane came together on April 9, suggesting that more than one powerful eruption part in the same package occurred right up to the event, and the cloud formation happened afterward.

"All of a sudden, this stuff comes around and people start smelling it, there's a lot of excitement," said Nicholas Fisher, a geophysicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. In cases like this, researchers have previously estimated that the eruption of Mount St. Helens around 1980 was 1 million times the size of Mount St. Helen's in 1980, said Murray, so this discovery of a distinctive deposit is disconcerting.