We know it’s not healthy for trees or people to get struck by lightning, but what does a direct lightning strike do to rocks and sediment?
Lightning heats up the air it passes through to as much as 50,000°F (27,000°C) due to resistance. Solid rocks and sand don't conduct electricity well, so they can heat to high temperatures when struck by lightning. Most quartz-rich rocks melt at temperatures above 700°C, and at even lower temperatures in the presence of water. As soon as the lightning strikes, sand melts in a pattern following the trace of the electricity. When it solidifies, it becomes glass, in that same form. These structures are fragile and rarely preserved in older rocks.
Scientific studies show that lightning can penetrate a few hundreds feet below earth’s surface. The temperature drops quickly, but the electrical charge and shock of the lightning strike can still penetrate into the subsurface.
Put all this together and you get two types of “lightning” rocks - fulgurites and lightning quartz, as shown in the photos above.
Similar fulgurites and lightning quartz crystals are available online and in the adobe-and-viga shop.
Lightning Strikes Sand - Fulgurite
Where do lightning and sand come together? Mostly beaches and deserts, but deserts tend to be much bigger. Large expanses of Morocco and Libya are sandy deserts, and the economy there has made it attractive for people to hunt for unusual rocks formed by events like meteorite showers and lightning strikes. Most of the fulgurites on the market today are from these two countries. The “rock” formed when lightning strikes quartz-rich sand is called “fulgurite”, after the Latin fulgur meaning lightning. Popular literature often refers to fulgurites as “petrified lightning.” Fulgurites typically have a hollow or chambered core and a sandy / bumpy looking exterior, which may or may not appear glassy. Fulgurites are quite fragile, so sometimes only partial tubes are recovered.
Fulgurites vary in appearance because the parent sand can vary in composition, like the two types we have available. The grey appears to be a coarser sand, the beige color finer.
Technically fulgurite is not a mineral because it has no crystalline structure - it's amorphous glass, also known as lechatelierite.
How big do fulgurites get? The literature reports fulgurites 4 feet and longer. These are FRAGILE which means their preservation potential on earth’s surface is low.
Hmmm…. Large desert area, maybe sand dunes, that sounds like White Sands.
Does lightning strike at White Sands? Of course.
Have people found “fulgurites” there? Yes, although technically it's not "fulgurite" because they're made of gypsum. Gypsum melts at a much lower temperature (150°C) than quartz, so there should be some spectacular fulgurite-like features there.
Can I buy a “fulgurite” from White Sands? Not legally. Because part of the White Sands area is a military missile testing site, and most of the rest is a national park, collecting any type of rock or sediment sample is illegal. This is true of all national monuments and parks, such as Bandelier. Geologists and other collectors must apply for (CODE WORD) SPECIAL permission to collect and remove any samples.
Lightning quartz is a quartz crystal that shows the effects of being hit by lightning, without being melted. The shock of the lightning strike, and/or the electrical charge, causes an internal disruption of the internal crystalline structure that looks like a zig-zag fracture.
In practice it’s really hard to find lightning quartz – there’s not that many places on earth that have large quartz crystals sitting close or at earth’s surface, and most of those place are covered with vegetation or are inaccessible.
The exception is the Serra de Espinhaco Mountains of the Minas Gerais district of Brazil. The Minas Gerais district is one of the world’s best known areas for finding huge and beautiful mineral specimens. One of the mineral dealers from that region paid attention when her workers said they found quartz crystals that had been struck by lightning at the top of a hill. Each crystal had a peculiar zig-zag fracture pattern running through it.
In the next thunderstorm, her workers watched to see where the lightning was striking, then went there to look for lightning-struck quartz. Now they do this routinely, and lightning quartz is available to the international mineral market.
Photo below: Lightning Quartz, Brazil, $52. We have more lightning quartz crystals in the adobe-and-viga store.
Energy Work with Fulgurite and Lightning Quartz
As you might expect, any material formed with the assistance of lightning has an extra boost of energy!
Fulgurite, as a natural glass, assists in group endeavors by encouraging practicality and shared understanding. In its tubular form, fulgurite can assist in focusing energy, and has been used as a divining rod and rain-making. It can help to focus “hearing” and “knowing” (clairaudience and clairsentience) [from *Melody 1997].
Lightning quartz carries the energy of lightning, and of the quartz that survived the shock. It has been worked with those who have experienced stress, shock or trauma in their lives. The energy can be used like “lightning” to help clear and disrupt energetic patterns that no longer serve the highest good. It can be worked with for harmonizing and clearing energies, and accessing the Higher Realms.
In addition to these properties, the Amianto lightning quartz crystals combine energies supporting the heart, sacral and crown chakras to promote wholeness and health [from *Melody, 2007].
*Melody (1995) Love Is In the Earth, A Kaleidoscope of Crystals, Updated. Earth-Love Publishing House, pp. 295-296. *Melody 2007 Love Is In the Earth, The Mineral and Crystal Encyclopedia, Earth-Love Publishing House, pp. 625-626.
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If your delicate specimen is over 70lbs we will refer you to our local Crating company for safer freight shipping! *At customer expense.