Red Rain

Scientific Analysis

Some red rains have been analyzed scientifically. On March 14, 1818, there was a red rain in Naples, Italy, and dry powder was collected after the shower. The powder was analyzed and was shown to be composed of silex (33%), alumina (15.5%), chrome (1.0%), carbonic acid (9.0%), and a "combustible substance of a carbonaceous nature." It was thought to be of "volcanic origin, and that the presence of chrome assimilates it with meteoric stones" (The American Journal of Science and Arts, 1: 309, 1819).

In 1819 at Blankenburg, Mssrs. M. M. Meyer and Stopp took samples of red rain that fell and found it to contain a solution of chloride of cobalt. Samples taken from the Sienna case referred to previously were taken by Professor Campari who, together with Professor Gabrielli, analyzed it and found that it did not contain chloride of cobalt. They also found that the water deposited no sediment, so the color must have been due to a solution of some sort (Philip Henry Gosse, The Romance of Natural History, London: James Nisbet and Co., 1866; vol. II, p. 102-103).

In William A. Corliss's compilation Strange Phenomena: A Sourcebook of Unusual Natural Phenomena (The Sourcebook Project, Glen Arm, MD: 1974, pp. G1-10) there is an analysis of a blood rain by O. Silvestri that originally appeared in Chemical News, (25:300, June 21, 1872). The chemical analysis of the rain, which fell in Sicily on March 9th, 10th, and 11th, 1872; "was found to consist of 100 parts of red iron ochre, 75.1; carbonate of lime, 11.7; organic matter, 13.2." In this case--as in a number of others--the red rain was accompanied by meteoric dust, and this meteoric connection may be significant.


İMark Chorvinsky, 1995