California beachcombers may need to be more careful about picking up cool looking rocks to take home, although no one can explain how these combustible rocks arrived. Rick Rojas reports for the LA Times:
What could possibly cause rocks picked up at a popular state beach to ignite in the pocket of a woman’s cargo shorts?
To scientists, the answer is — well, there is no clear answer.
The case of an Orange County woman severely burned after rocks collected last weekend from San Onofre State Beach ignited in her pocket has puzzled scientists, who say they’ve never seen anything like it and aren’t quite sure how it happened.
“It’s pretty implausible,” said Larry Overman, a professor of chemistry at UC Irvine.
The 43-year-old San Clemente woman, who remained hospitalized Thursday with second- and third-degree burns, visited the northern San Diego County beach last Saturday with her family, authorities said. Her name has not been released.
Her children collected rocks, including two that were distinctive — one was large and a marbled gray; the other much smaller and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle green.
Both of the beach stones were streaked and flecked with bright orange.
The mother put the rocks in her right pocket and went home. Then they suddenly ignited.
Witnesses reported seeing flames coming from her shorts. She had second- and third-degree burns from her right knee to her right thigh, with second-degree burns on her hands. Her husband also had burns on his hands from trying to help her…
[continues in the LA Times]