Fulgurite

Fulgurites are an incredibly interesting piece of nature. They are a form of glass, formed naturally when lightning strikes sand or dirt. The heat caused by a lightning strike is immense and can fuse the sand together into a tube like formation known as a Fulgurite.

They are rare, of course – lightning generally strikes in the highest place and that is generally not where sand is. They are easiest to find in deserts, where unusual changes in the sand and soil can be spotted from quite far away. Most of the fulgurites I supply are found by the Berber peoples of Algeria and the surrounding area.

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So what is a Fulgurite?

Fulgurites are naturally fused tubes, clumps, or pieces of fused material caused by lightning striking the ground. They are a form of Silica glass, and typically comprise of soil, sand, rocks and other sediment and sometimes, organic matter.

A form of Silica glass, known as Lechatelierite. They typically form in hollow or branching tubes, as lightning strikes silica-rich minerals usually found in sand, rocks, or soil.
Tubular pieces are typically found in beaches and deserts, as a bolt of lightning goes through the sand and melts the silica. The liquid cools quickly, usually forming a tube with a rough outer layer and a smoother inside.

Sometimes, the fulgurite occurs underground, and may branch out into root shapes in a similar form to the zig zagging a lightning bolt seems to form in the sky.

Typically, these are fragile. They are an impure form of glass, and the walls are quite thin – so they are a relatively brittle specimen.

They are also sometimes known as ‘fossilised lightning’, ‘petrified lightning’, ‘Lechatelierite’, ‘fulgarite’, or ‘fulgerites’. Obviously, they do occur in various colours! It all depends on the colours and specific mineral contents of the sand or material where the lightning hit.

Fulgurite pieces were featured in the television show ‘Supernatural’, referred to as an “Act of God”.

Appearance

Typically an unusual, glassy and earthy structure with tubes and pipes. They occur in a huge amount of shapes and sizes, some look almost like coral. One of the largest recently found was around 5 metres – Darwins “The Voyage of the Beagle” reported some UK fulgurites around 9 metres long.


Locales

Fulgurite pieces can be found around the world.

Most of the pieces we currently sell are from Algeria, the Gobi Desert and the Sahara – but they can be found anywhere lightning may strike.

 


Photos of Fulgurite / Lechatelierite

Beautiful Fulgurite
Fulgurit mineralogisches museum bonn
Iwamizawa-park local-history-and-science-museum fulgurite

PSM V20 D677 Fulgurite tubes created by vitrification of sand by lighting
PSM V30 D553 Fulgurite tubes
Fulgurites-algeria

Hazards and Warnings

Fulgurite is almost a glass, so there are inherent hazards with that. If snapped or broken, they can be quite sharp.

Almost all rocks, minerals (and, frankly, almost all other substances on earth) can produce toxic dust when cutting, which can cause serious respiratory conditions including silicosis.

When cutting or polishing rocks, minerals, shells, etc, all work should be done wet to minimise the dust, and a suitable respirator or extraction system should be used.


Translations

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Russian:

  • фульгурит

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Japanese:

Spanish:

  • fulgurita

German:

  • Fulgurit

Korean:

  • 풀구 라이트

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Gujurati:

Mandarin and Traditional Chinese:

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Further Reading / External Links