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  Landscaping > General Garden Info > Mysterious Clay Particles - Reader Theories

General Garden Info

Mysterious Clay Particles - Reader Theories

Reader theories on the origin of clay particles from the sky.

Scroll to the bottom to find an answer.
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Dirt rain. Gotta be. Amelia P.
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* red dust from comet/meteor tail, red due to charged particles of iron oxide – occurring constantly
* our own “dust cloud” created on earth in Africa/China –

Moisture in the air trapped particles, froze in the upper atmosphere and dropped, landing on the heated earth surfaces. Water within, evaporated, leaving “dirt”. Jennifer M.

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Ever heard of things being lifted up into clouds by the wind and then coming back down with precipitation? I have heard of many insects and other things being sucked up into thunderstorms and coming back down either with rain or frozen inside hail up to the size of a softball. Of course, this presumes atmospheric moisture sufficient for precipitation to reach the ground.

Well, I conjecture that wind-blown clay dust from all the land disturbance and construction going on during the drought around the Atlanta metro region, an area of hundreds of square miles, is being lofted into the upper atmosphere and mixing with water vapor, aggregating to a certain size, which becomes heavier than the lifting force and starts to precipitate out of the cloud, falling and drifting for many miles on its way to earth, and drying out during the journey due to lack of atmospheric moisture. Thus they could show up anywhere, anytime on a dry day, without any trees, clouds or construction nearby. Art G.
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MAYBE BECAUSE OF CONSTRUCTION, CLEARING LAND, IN OR NEAR THE AREA. DUST GETS SWEPT UP INTO THE CLOUDS, WHERE THEY SWIRL AROUND AND CONNECT TO OTHER PARTICLES OF DUST, AS DOES WATER TURNING INTO ICE , FORMING HAIL, THEN, GETTING TOO HEAVY, THEY DROP BACK TO EARTH. LEAVING LITTLE SPLATS OF MUD WHERE THEY LANDED, AND DRIED OUT. William K.
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Because of the drought we are having. I believe that the red clay is being drawn very high in the air. Where it combine with water crystal and are return to the earth when they get to heavy to stay airborne any longer. It would be just like hail that we have in a heavy thunder-storm. Carolyn W.
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Maybe the clay particles are from African dust clouds that blow across the Atlantic. Clay T.
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The cicada wasp theory sounds plausible, but it seems there would had to have been swarms of biblical proportion for there have been so many deposits that they appeared to have “rained from the sky,” and that would have been noticeable enough to correlate.

Your first inquirer relates recent rainfall with the phenomenon, stating that the particles are not present underneath the cover of trees.

My theory is that clay dust, from so much exposed land under developement, was sucked up into a thunderstorm. Once there, it was “rolled around” until enough tiny particles stuck together and became heavy enough to precipitate, much like hail. Chris P.
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I think it is some sort of insect poo. I do, however think it is a type of beetle that flies..like a Japanese beetle. Thanks for the fun of guessing. Sondra J.
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I live close to Jackson Lake and have seen the type of red clay clumps you described. They show up in some of my flower beds but the clumps aren't widely scattered. They are confined to a realtively small area no greater than about 50 square feet. I discovered that they are eventually moved to form a type of ant hill that is always built next to the rocks I use as flower bed borders. Sometimes I see the clumps on top of the rocks.

I never studied what the ants looked like until last year. My husband doesn't want me to disturb ant hills because he sprinkles the mounds with his own "special" mixture of ant killer. One day, however, I kicked one apart out of pure meaness and it was full of flying ants!

Could the clumps be something a flying ant drops enroute to a mound under construction? Could it be a realitively new-to-Georgia or foreign species? Kathy A.
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How about dust in the atmosphere due to our drought, then incorporated into a thundercloud and falling as "raindrops" (dirtdrops???)? Eugenia T.
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The most logical solution is a blasting project nearby causing the particles to be airborn. The "bugs" theory would not scatter the particles over such a large area. John S.
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Back in the early 1980's I was an assistant county agent in Worth County. It was mid-summer and a thundercloud produced a quick shower, only it wasn't rain, it was mud! All of the cars in the parking lot were covered with mud from the sky. As I recall, the theory was that it was Texas topsoil that had been swept into the atmosphere during a dust storm a few days prior.

I don't really think this is the answer to the issue at hand but dirt from the sky is not as far fetched as someone might first think. Hal R.
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Barn swallow birds form small balls of clay soil to transport and build nets. Research has shown that these balls are often dropped during flight. George L.
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We had this problem at work and found a yellow jacket nest close by. When the yellow jackets were gone the clay drops stopped. I know it was a yellowjacket nest because one of them stung me on the ear while I was investigating why clay was being dropped onto cars parked nearby. James M.

The winner!
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