What is a Fulgurite?

fulgurites
Photo provided by Wiki Commons
A fulgurite is often referred to as "petrified lightning".

When lightning strikes the sand at a temperature of at least 3,270 degrees, the heat melts the silica and fuses the sand into fascinating structures. This takes place within the time frame of one second. The long, slender, hollow glass tubes are below the surface of the sand and can be found by looking for uneven coloring on the sand's surface where the lightning has entered. The glass structure is usually an irregular shape and can be transparent white, black or tan. They are very delicate in nature and are sometimes used in making jewelry.

The very brittle fulgurites break easily while removing them from the sand. Each fulgurite is different and can have a main branch and then many smaller branches that resemble the actual flash of lightning. Some fulgurites are round and hollow while others are flattened into rough shapes caused by the pressure of the sand.

lightening
Photography by ToddAndBradReed.com
There are generally two types of fulgurites--sand and rock. Sand are the more common of the two, and the kind found at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes. They have a glassy interior, due to the rapid cooling of the sand after the lightning strikes. Most are one to two inches in diameter. They are also found in Utah's deserts. The longest fulgurite was found in northern Florida, measuring a little over 4.9 meters in length. Mountain peaks are continually hit by lightning, and that's where most rock fulgurites are found.

Fulgurites are used by some people as a tool for prayer and meditation. It is said to arouse energy and help one focus.



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For more activities & attractions, check out these additional links for Things to Do in West Michigan:


Ludington Activities & Things to Do -- Take a tour at Historic White Pine Village or Amber Elk Ranch--Ludington offers many fun things to do for the entire family!
Have Fun in Manistee, Michigan -- Explore Manistee's historic downtown district and riverwalk, hike the Manistee National Forest, canoe on the Manistee River, and more.
Hamlin Lake -- Just 4 miles north of Ludington, Hamlin Lake is a great destination for boating, fishing and climbing dunes! The Hamlin Lake shoreline is also part of the Ludington State Park.
Silver Lake Sand Dunes -- Visiting the Silver Lake Sand Dunes makes for a terrific vacation because you can take your off-road vehicle for a spin on the scenic sand dunes overlooking Lake Michigan and Silver Lake.
Things to Do in Pentwater, Michigan -- Nothing is quite like the quaint, artsy, harbortown village of Pentwater. Don't miss the popular Charles Mears State Park beach on Pentwater's Lake Michigan shoreline.
Lots of Activities in Scottville, Michigan -- Explore the Riverside Park along the National Scenic Pere Marquette River.
Canoeing or Fishing on the Pere Marquette River -- Many boat liveries offer canoe rentals.
Also, check out West Michigan Guides and our locally produced West Michigan Business Directory for our largest lists of Things to Do in West Michigan.
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Last Updated: 07-02-2014 10:32 AM ID: 257