Disintegrating earth, also known as earth crumbs or dirt crumbs, is a temporary type of earth block that appears when various blocks are either in the process of disappearing or reappearing. When mined, disintegrating blocks will always give earth, regardless of what type of block they were originally.
Disintegrating earth can appear during earthquakes, which have the effect of slowly filling in open underground areas.
Earth blocks placed above ground in the sky, with no solid base beneath them, will quickly turn into disintegrating earth blocks before disappearing entirely.
Shoveled blocks, including non-earth blocks that have been shoveled by brains, show as disintegrating earth for a short time before resuming their original forms.
Occasionally, server hiccups will result in disintegrating earth persisting in its disintegrated state.
When earthquakes were first implemented, they affected private as well as public worlds. When this was changed to exempt private worlds from having earthquakes, any disintegrating blocks remained in their disintegrating state permanently (until mined).