Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Weird Wednesday: My Petrified Lightning Collection

I have some weird stuff in my flotsam and jetsam collection, but nothing quite as strange as fulgurites. Fulgurites are strange, sandy-glassy tubes left by lightning striking the beach (or any area with suitable levels of silica in its soil). The lightning is so hot (well, it's plasma!) that the sand forms glass tubes in the shape of the actual lightning forks. Not surprisingly, fulgerites are known colloquially as "petrified lightning", and I live in one of the major fulgerite hotspots on the planet.
Fulgurites, MR, 2013
Way cool! I had been looking for these for years, and finally, when I was meandering around the beach, I found a whole pile of them. I sent a few to my science-savvy relatives who like this sort of thing, and kept the rest. They are certainly the crown jewels of my flotsam and jetsam collection.
A side note, the longest fulgurite in the world was also found in Florida, and it was 4.9m long! Too bad I missed that one....


  1. Awesome! That last photo looks like some menacing alien worm. How tough are they?

  2. It depends on what sort of soil/sand the lightning strikes. Since lightning is plasma energy, it melts whatever is around it. So high silicon-content soils or sands are best, then you get fulgurites as hard as glass. Mine are definitely as tough/brittle as glass. Other, less vitrified fulgurites, would dissolve over time, I'm guessing.

  3. Neat Marla. I've heard of fulgurites and seen them on tv but never knew anyone who had a collection of them. We live in an area of Maryland that has been settled for a long time and often when we are digging on the property we find old pieces of pottery and clay pipes that have been dated from the early to mid 1700's. We were really excited for a few years but now it's sort of "oh look here's another clay pipe." Lately we have been walking along the Chesapeake Bay looking for sharks teeth. I guess once you are a collector, you are ready to collect just about any and every thing. :) Of course succulents plants is still my favorite thing to collect.

  4. I'm sure the "collector temperament" has, at least in part, a genetic basis, as my whole family loves to collect. Sounds like yours does, too! Those clay pipes sound pretty intriguing. Ditto the shark teeth.